Here are the tips for adults with autism on how to cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic. I’ve been doing these things during the pandemic.
How to cope with disrupted personal routines:
- Try to avoid burnout: If you are continuing to report to work, you may be working longer hours and having intense interactions with customers or co-workers. If you find yourself feeling burned out with the extra effort to sustain these interactions, tell a supervisor how you are feeling and that you need a break. You should document these conversations as well.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness means being in the present moment with the activity you are doing. This can take the form of meditation, yoga, coloring, or any other activity that helps you focus on the “here and now.” There are many free online videos and apps you can use to explore different activities to see which ones work for you.
- Respect your emotions: This is a stressful time and you may experience emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, or frustration. Know that your emotions are valid, and many other people are also dealing with their own heightened emotions. Think of ways you have worked through emotions in the past and try to use some of those same tools now.
Many adults with autism have strategies for avoiding becoming overwhelmed by emotions. In this new and uncertain situation, remember your strategies to avoid a meltdown and take action to avoid it, such as finding a quiet place.
- Develop or revisit a crisis plan: Having a crisis plan may mean different things to different people. At its most basic level, this is a list of important information, including who to contact if you are in a crisis and what a crisis looks like to you. This plan may include emergency contact information when to call doctors, or other vital information to have in one place. Post a copy in your living space and carry a copy with you if you leave the house.
- Stick to a new routine: With everything changing around us, we are still able to live some semblance of normalcy by sticking to our existing routines or schedules, while adapting them to the current situation. Try to get up at the same time, still get dressed like usual, go to bed at the same time, and complete any hygiene tasks as if it were a typical day. If you are working from home, or perhaps not working at all, you’ll need to adjust your routine to account for this time. While it may be tempting to, say, not brush your hair or do chores when at home for long periods, these small details help to eliminate some of the stress of unpredictability.
- Exercise your mind and body: Stress takes a physical toll on your body and also depresses the immune system. If you are already physically active, try to find ways you can continue these routines at home. Look for free fitness routines online or see if your local gym is offering virtual classes. Keeping your mind active is also important as part of overall mental health. Instead of only binging a new TV series or watching movies, try to add variety by picking up a book or listening to a podcast. Most public libraries have an online system that allows you to check out electronic books and audiobooks to use on your device from home.
- Take care of your health: Taking care of your health at this time is extremely important not just for you, but also for others who you could unknowingly expose to the COVID-19 virus. Try to eat healthy meals, get enough rest, take medications as scheduled, and if you do feel sick, stay at home. If you have a medical emergency, you should call 911. If you have questions and are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please follow the CDC guidelines. Also, call your doctor’s office or emergency room before going for treatment.
- Continue support networks: Many mental health providers, case managers, and specialists are still working but using different methods, such as virtual meetings or video calls. Call your providers to see how they can work with you during this time. Phone meetings may be harder, but prioritizing support right now can help you remember you are not alone. If you are part of an in-person support group, ask the leader if they can arrange a virtual meeting for those who want to join.
- Find some online or phone resources: There are a growing number of online resources to help people feel less alone during isolation. The Autism Response Team (888-AUTISM2) and 211 can help connect you with needed resources, including new ones being created. Connect with your peers regularly using email, text, video messaging, or social media. Make the effort to reach out to families and friends if you are feeling stressed.
- Take a media break: It is very easy to get overwhelmed with the constant barrage of information online about the current pandemic. If you find yourself feeling anxious while reading the news or social media, try to take a break. You can schedule a set amount of time to catch up on the news to make it less likely you’ll be overwhelmed by it. Remember to also schedule time at the beginning or end of the day to care for yourself by doing something fun or relaxing, depending on your needs that day.
- Plan for the future: One of the hardest things at this time is to think about the future with all of this uncertainty. Think positively about the future and the things you want to do when things improve. Is there a new skill or hobby you want to learn? Are there courses you can take to help you at work? Are there goals you want to achieve that you can work on while you are stuck at home? Make a plan to help you work toward bigger goals – it can help you try to stay positive.
Working from home: Developing a New Routine
Manage your time:
- While your usual workday routine may not be possible right now, that doesn’t mean you have to be without a routine at all. Start by determining what tasks you need to accomplish and when they are due. If necessary, contact your supervisor to make sure you are clear about what is most important to work on. Then, break bigger tasks down into steps and schedule them into your days. Try to leave extra time slots open in case you get behind on a task. This way, you have a plan in place for when things don’t go exactly as planned.
- A written schedule or visual routine is a good strategy for time management. You can use an app, a daily planner, or a simple checklist with the tasks you need to complete for the day. Many autistic people like to use visual cues to organize information, such as color-coding by task type or days of the week, or using pictures alongside a written schedule. For example, you might shade your break times in blue or include a picture of a phone next to any scheduled conference calls.
- If you prefer a more flexible approach, you can break the project down by setting a goal for the end of each day. Then list the steps you’ll need to do to reach that goal.
Organize your workspace:
- Set up a workspace that works to your advantage. As tempting as it is to lounge in bed or front of the TV with your laptop, this can make it harder to focus during the day and harder to relax at night. Consider your sensory needs—the type of lighting, noise level, and seating that allows you to focus. Choose a place that allows for easy access to any paperwork, tools, or other items you need without the clutter. If you’re having a hard time remembering your new setup, try using trays or bins with clear labels (made using text, color-coding, and/or visual cues).
- If your work involves frequent emails, consider setting up your inbox with subfolders and color-coded tags for each sender. You can organize computer documents and files in the same way.
Communicate With Co-Workers:
- The same technology that allows teams to work together across countries and continents makes it possible for projects to continue despite the circumstances brought about by COVID-19. Your employer may use a platform or app designed for remote work, such as Basecamp, where team members post announcements, schedules, to-do lists, and files. Team meetings may take place over a video- or web-conference platform such as Zoom or Skype. If you are having trouble navigating these platforms, contact your supervisor or a savvy co-worker and ask if they can walk you through how to use the most important functions.
- Since in-person contact is not possible, you might see an increase in emails, phone calls, and video conferences. Leave time for responding to these in your daily schedule. Some of these communication methods may be more difficult for you. Don’t be afraid to double-check your understanding following one-to-one emails or phone calls, especially if you were given instructions.
- During meetings, consider taking notes, writing down questions, or even asking permission to record. If you agree to do or are assigned tasks during the call, you can write them down as a list of action items. Then, you can reach out to the meeting leader, your supervisor, or a coworker with your list to confirm or clarify what you will be working on.
- Successfully working from home is as much about personal wellness as it is about productivity. As much as possible, keep the parts of your day that don’t have to change, like the time you wake up and go to bed, the clothes you wear. and meal times. Using these as anchor points can give you a sense of normalcy as you fill in the gaps with your new routine.
- For many people with autism, work can be socially draining, so home becomes a place of much-needed alone time. In this case, working from home could mean too much isolation. With social distancing in mind, you can find ways to stay connected to other people once your workday is over. Play video games, invite coworkers to a long-distance movie night via Netflix Party, or take a walk while staying at least six feet apart.
- Make sure you take breaks during the workday for both your body and mind—eat regular meals, get up regularly to stretch or take a short walk, and give your eyes a chance to get away from the screen.
- As you develop your new routine, check in with yourself regularly. Are you meeting your goals? Are you getting healthy amounts of sleep, food, and exercise? Are you keeping in touch with other people? Are your mood and anxiety level manageable? Keep the big picture in mind—that your wellness is key to successfully working from home, and that your new routine is a good thing because you are helping to keep yourself and others safe.
Here are more coping tips:
- Don’t get upset when certain events get canceled or postponed. Just deal with it and move on.
- Make a post-pandemic plan.
- Put off traveling until it’s safe to do so.
- Try virtual tours of museums, national parks, etc.
- Watch virtual events (concerts, conferences, etc).
Here’s more info:
Support for Autistic Adults Dealing With COVID-19 Employment Changes:
Applying for Unemployment: https://www.usa.gov/unemployment
Here are tips on coping with stress from WHO (World Health Organization):
- It is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused, scared or
angry during a crisis.
- Talking to people you trust can help. Contact your
family and friends.
- Don’t use smoking, alcohol, or other drugs to deal with
- If you feel overwhelmed, talk to a health worker or
counselor. Have a plan, where to go to, and how to seek
help for physical and mental health needs if required.
- Limit worry and agitation by lessening the time you
and your family spend watching or listening to media
coverage that you perceive as upsetting.
- If you must stay at home, maintain a healthy lifestyle –
including proper diet, sleep, exercise, and social contacts
with loved ones at home and by email and phone with
other family and friends.
- Get the facts. Gather information that will help you
accurately determine your risk so that you can take
reasonable precautions. Find a credible source you can
trust such as the WHO website or, a local or state public
health agency. Ignore the fake news or misinformation.
- Draw on skills you have used in the past that have
helped you to manage previous life’s adversities and use
those skills to help you manage your emotions during
the challenging time of this outbreak.
Here are more mental health tips including the resources from the American Psychological Association:
- Ration all the supplies.
- Once in a while, order essential items online, but don’t overspend.
- If you run out, deal with it and use other options. For example, if you run out of hot dogs, eat something else instead. Or if you run out of shampoo, use dry shampoo or some other hair resource.
- Sanitize mail and food deliveries.
- No contact with the deliverers.
- If you’re on essential errands, wear masks, carry hand sanitizers & tissues, and stay away from strangers.
- Donate to charities.
Here’s a link of more info and resources for families, educators, caregivers, etc:
Here’s a link of how people with autism are coping with the pandemic:
If you had been vaccinated, don’t do anything strenuous. Go easy on yourself. Relax and read or watch TV. Get some sleep. Take some Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or some other medication once in a while. Eat lightly, nothing heavy. Keep your vaccine card. Do not lose it or misplace it. Put it in a safe place. Take a picture of it.
Jobs for Middle School and High School Kids
- Walking dogs
- Maintaining computers
- Making Powerpoint presentations
- Selling artwork or crafts
- Working on church or neighborhood website
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I never had a job in middle school and high school. I attended a high school career academy. I majored in culinary arts from grades ten to twelve. In the middle of my senior year, I switched to Early Childhood Education because culinary arts was unsuitable for me. For ECE class, I volunteered at an airport festival and interned at an elementary school and a public library. Those experiences were quite educational. I interviewed a professional therapist for my mandatory Capstone PowerPoint project on autism. Autism was related to my ECE major.
Preparing for Employment
- Jobs for teenagers
- Visit workplace
- Trade journals
- Wall Street Journal. Make portfolio—people respect talent
- Sell your skills, not yourself
- Community Colleges
- Technical Schools
- Online learning
- University Courses
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I took many online college courses and one traditional class from several schools.
- U.S. National Science Digital Library Project
- The Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE)
- Physics Education Technology PhET
- OpenCourseWare Consortium
Jobs for Verbal Thinkers
- Stocks and bonds analyst
- Copy editor
- Specialty Retail
- Bookkeeper & record keeper
- Budget analyst
- Special education teacher
- Book indexer
- Speech therapist
- Inventory control specialist
- Legal researcher
- Stage actor
Jobs for Visual Thinkers:
- Industrial design
- Computer network specialist
- Graphic arts
- Auto mechanic
- Computer repair
- Equipment design
- Convention AV technician
- Animal Trainer
Bad Jobs for People with Autism
They require lots of short term working memory and fast processing information.
- Cashier — making change quickly puts too much demand on short-term working memory
- Short order cook — Have to keep track of many orders and cook many different things at the same time
- Waitress — Especially difficult if have to keep track of many different tables
- Casino dealer — Too many things to keep track of
- Taxi dispatcher — Too many things to keep track of
- Taking oral dictation — Difficult due to auditory processing problems
- Airline ticket agent — Deal with angry people when flights are canceled
- Future market trader — Totally impossible
- Air traffic controller — Information overload and stress
- Receptionist and telephone operator — Would have problems when the switchboard got busy
And any other fast-paced careers.
Jobs for Music and Math Thinkers
- Math teacher
- Scientific researcher
- Electronics technician
- Music teacher
- Computer programmer
Jobs for People with Poor Verbal Skills or Non-Verbal
- Shelve Library Books
- Factory Assembly Work
- Fast Food Restaurant Work
- Data Entry
- Lawn and Garden Work
- Recycling Plant/Warehouse
- Stocking Shelves
- Inventory Control
Dr. Wendy Ross, a pediatrician founded a nonprofit company, Autism Inclusion Resources. The company teaches children with autism and their families skills that would make the world less scary. She was sad to hear stories about families avoiding social outings such as a ball game, a theme park, etc. in fear of having a disastrous outing. Ross also works with people who may encounter autistic individuals and their families. She educates stadium personnel, airline employees, and museum docents, making them aware of the challenges these families face.
The signs of autism are:
- not responding to one’s name
- no smiles or any other expression
- not repeating words or phrases
- loss of speech
- stop talking
- withdrawing away from other people
- no gestures
- throwing tantrums randomly
- sensitivity to sounds, light, textures, touch, and smells
- lack of emotion
- flapping around
- rocking back and forth
Here’s a link of 8 steps of how to prevent an autism-elopement tragedy. If you have students, family members, or friends with autism, please be on a lookout on them. If they forget, you should remind them to tell you where they’re going. Teach them in terms they would understand.
A video in relation of the subject of children with autism wandering around:
Advice for Parents of Children Just Diagnosed with Autism:
There’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not your fault. It just happened. It’s okay that you’re frustrated and overwhelmed, but things will get better in time. Be patient. Don’t push the person with autism too hard. That person is still there for you no matter what. Don’t give up! Quitting is not an option. Don’t worry what other people think. Find some support from people who understand your situation. To heck with the bigots! Build a community of people you can get advice and support from.
You don’t always have to rely on just specialists and professionals, but on other parents of kids with autism, and adults on the autism spectrum as well. Jason Katims, the executive producer of NBC’s “Parenthood,” and the father of a son with autism, once said he thought that finding that community was the first thing any parent should do after their child is diagnosed. A network of new friends might recommend a therapist or a social skills group or a place for a haircut. More importantly, they’re on the same boat as you are. Whatever you’re going through or struggling with or celebrating, many of them have been there and they can relate. A little empathy can help a lot on a difficult day. People with autism want your unconditional love.
Here’s what other parents say: Sharon Fuentes, author of “The Don’t Freak Out Guide to Parenting Kids with Asperger’s,” blogs about her experience raising her son Jay, 13, at Mama’s Turn Now. Her advice: “Your son or daughter is still the same person they were before they got the diagnosis. I know this may not have been the path you would have chosen to have traveled down, but some of the best journeys in life are ones that happened when we unexpectedly took a left turn. Yes the road can get bumpy, but that is when you need to reach out to all those that have been there before you who do whatever they can to smooth the path for your child. Remember that you are not alone, trust your own instincts, breathe, laugh often, believe in yourself and more importantly believe in your child and never ever lose hope!”
Bernie DeLeo was a drama teacher at West Springfield High School in Fairfax and has a 20-year-old son, Charlie, with autism. The school staged a play DeLeo wrote, “Nerdicus (My Brother with Autism),” about his daughter’s experience growing up with a sibling with autism. His advice: “My biggest advice to parents is, first, don’t panic. Second, after the initial freak-out and panic (you will, even though I told you not to), educate yourselves and know your rights and options. Third and most important, don’t let people tell you what they think your child is capable of. They will immediately see the disability, and NOT your child’s capabilities! Every child will be different. At my son’s high school, they recommended that he not take languages or aim for the Advanced Diploma. ‘Special Ed children tend not to do well with languages,’ they said. We ignored that advice, he took 5 years of Spanish, and now he’s living away from home and majoring in languages at Marshall University.”
Shannon Des Roches Rosa was one of the editors of the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, a book and Web site devoted to providing information from autism parents, people with autism, and autism professionals. She also has a personal blog at Squidalicious, where she writes about her adventures parenting 13-year-old Leo, who has autism. Her advice: “I wish — more than anything — I’d tried harder to understand my son instead of trying to ‘fix’ him. He was the same sweet, capable boy both before and after his autism diagnosis; the only change was my awareness of his needs. And he needs me to love him, respect him and champion him. He needs me to make sure he has time to play. He needs me to fight for appropriate communication and learning resources. He needs me to get him support to navigate an autism-unfriendly world. Understanding instead of fighting Leo’s autism makes us both much happier people.”
Raising a Child with Autism: Educate yourself about autism. Love your child unconditionally. Ask someone who is already aware of autism for advice if you need any help. Teach your family about autism. Learn how to deal with their behaviors or seek professional help that fits your criteria. Use caution or be prepared for their meltdowns or certain situations. Plan time for breaks. Help them boost their confidence when they’re feeling down. If they find out they’re autistic, talk to them about it. Help them understand the meaning of their condition and understand how they feel about dealing with their disability. Parents, you and your children will still lead normal lives. Don’t concern yourself with what other people say or think. Some people are just ignorant. There is nothing to be ashamed of raising an autistic child. Tell your children there is nothing to be ashamed of for being different. They are still special no matter what.
Advice for Parents from Teen on Autism Spectrum: Tell your children that they have autism when the time is right, and when they’re old enough to understand. It doesn’t matter how they’ll react. Give them time to come around and accept it. Tell them that being different is nothing to be ashamed of and you love them unconditionally. Teach them self-respect and acceptance and how to deal with the world.
The “typically developing” siblings of children with autism are, in fact, the furthest thing from typical. Often, they are wiser and more mature than their age would suggest. And they have to be, given the myriad challenges they face: parental responsibility; a feeling of isolation from the rest of their family; confusion, fear, anger and embarrassment about their autistic sibling. And on top of all of it, guilt for having these feelings.
My advice: Don’t feel left out or jealous. It’s okay if you feel neglected, but resenting your family or autistic sibling does not help. It only makes the situation worse. And yelling at your autistic sibling out of anger does NOT help either. Find some common ground with your brother or sister and make a connection. Don’t push them too hard. If you feel neglected, talk to your parents and figure out how to work it out—getting the equal amount of love and attention as your autistic sibling. It’s not the end of the world. You’ll still be loved no matter what. Be patient and compassionate. Put yourselves in your parents’ shoes to understand them. Create special time. There is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. Don’t worry about what other people think or say.
When you think your sibling’s an embarrassment, encourage honesty and laugh. Example: if you have friends who make fun of your sibling, defend your sibling and don’t make fun of them. Tell your friends what’s going on and teach them how to tolerate your sibling. If they don’t understand, they’re not your real friends. A lot of typical siblings are more outspoken. They’ll go up to people and say, ‘Yes, that’s my brother or sister. He has special needs. Do you have any questions?’
Sense of humor is key. Another example: At a bus stop, Olivia, a girl with autism, started jumping up and down and making weird noises-just being herself. When her brother, Joe’s friend started making fun of Olivia, Joe said, “Hey, don’t be a jerk! Don’t make fun of my sister! Everybody learns differently. You gotta respect that. Just let her be.” Stand up for your brother or sister when he/she is being bullied by other people. If you’re embarrassed in public, ignore their tantrums or quirks, find a way to calm them down, or ask for help from someone reliable and trustworthy.
If you feel like you’re the parents, let your siblings be the children. Don’t think of it as a babysitting job. Think of it as an opportunity to be responsible and bonding with your sibling. Ask family members for help when it comes to holiday social gatherings and other situations. And discuss future plans when you have doubts about adulthood. Find a safe haven in case your autistic sibling gets aggressive. Help your parents create an intervention plan. Parents, educate your non-autistic children about their sibling’s disorder.
Dr. Raun Melmed, co-founder and medical director of the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix, suggests including non-autistic children in visits to the doctor or other autism professionals. A great way for kids is to meet other siblings of autistic children, which they can do at sibling workshops. Siblings will commonly have negative feelings, some might never connect or want to connect with their autistic siblings, but the good news is that typical siblings often turn out to be more compassionate and caring than average. Love your sibling unconditionally. Let them come to you. This advice for parents and siblings may also apply to relatives and guardians.
African American families share autism experiences: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2015-05-african-american-families-autism-video-series.html
12 Great Things to Say to Parents of Kids with Autism: https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/12-great-things-to-say-to-parents-of-kids-with-117807341361.html
12 Things Not to Say to Parents of Kids with Autism: https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/12-things-not-to-say-to-parents-of-kids-with-117800029051.html
20 Confessions of an Autism Dad: https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/20-confessions-of-an-autism-dad-121866238891.html
Amazing! Learning life skills isn’t always easy for those on the spectrum—but that didn’t stop Noah and his dad. http://blog.theautismsite.com/living-with-autism-a-grocery-store-outing/
Much APPlause for this Dad: http://blog.theautismsite.com/autism-village/
The Jack Nicholson Line that Made this Parent View Autism Differently: http://themighty.com/2015/04/the-jack-nicholson-line-that-made-me-view-autism-differently/
How To Keep Your Marriage Strong When You Have An Autistic Child: http://autism-daddy.blogspot.com/2011/12/12-ways-to-keep-your-marriage-strong.html
What It’s Really Like to Have a Child With Autism: https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/what-its-really-like-to-have-a-child-with-autism-126936999977.html
When a Mother Realized Her Nonverbal Autistic Child was Communicating: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marci-lebowitz/the-first-time-i-realized-my-nonverbal-autistic-child-was-communicating_b_8965384.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592
How Families Experience Autism: http://www.npr.org/2016/01/17/463359369/after-the-diagnosis-how-families-experience-autism
Raising a Tween with Autism: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2016/03/17/raising-a-tween-who-has-autism/
Tell the person with autism your name. Hang out with them. Bonding is a great way to get along with each other. People with autism encounter great difficulties in social interactions. This is a way of being for them. Most often you may need to be the one to make first contact and initiate any discussion. They show little interest in playing games, etc., so you may need to be the one who initiates these interactions. Hanging out with them all the time may make them feel like they are the most important person in the world. Ask them their dislikes. Some people with autism have louder hearing than we do. Help them out with anything including their problems. Compliment them. Find little things that they are good at and notice them. They will have more confidence with things that they do, and that will help them stand up for themselves in the future.
Don’t push them too hard at anything or they get stressed out. Give them time and space. Sometimes they like to be alone to think, so if they ask you to go away, do what they say, or if they seem upset, ask them if they are. Don’t take it personally if they don’t respond. They’re wrapped up in something else, not being ignorant. If they say no at joining a club or going to your house or whatever social opportunity it is, it doesn’t mean they’re rude. They just want to think about it whether they want to do it or not. Don’t encourage them to do bad things or force them to do things they don’t want to do. Don’t pressure them to give up on things they love.
If you don’t like some of their interests, ignore it. Maybe you’ll have something else in common with them. Find a way to put up with their quirks. Like any other friendship, stay loyal. You’ve got their backs no matter what. Love your friends unconditionally. Treat them like a regular person, a human being. Nothing to be ashamed of having an autistic friend. If they get bullied often, stand up for them. Even if the bully is your best friend. Getting your friends to be nice to your friend with autism will help him or her feel like they are not just a person but an important person. Always be there for them. It will make him/her feel appreciated! Everyone, remember this: You are not alone. Autism is a unique thing.
A Little Girl Explained About her Friend: https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/a-little-girl-asked-why-my-daughter-with-autism-is-115318232851.html
Truths About Making Friends When You Have Autism: https://www.yahoo.com/health/10-truths-about-making-friends-when-you-have-124615316498.html
7-Year-Old Girl with autism writes Heartbreaking letter: http://news.yahoo.com/7-year-old-girl-with-autism-writes-heartbreaking-161740146.html
A Parent’s Letter to Autistic Child’s Friend: https://www.yahoo.com/parenting/to-the-friend-who-s-1343999367151670.html