8 Tips for People With Autism and Communication Challenges During COVID-19

April 9, 2020

*This article was originally published on The Mighty.

This article was written collaboratively with Kim Sanders, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and Pam Martin, Training and Support Manager at Grafton Integrated Health Network

Imagine you are a person with autism or another developmental or mental health challenge that makes communication difficult. Now, imagine that all of the people around you are wearing masks. You can’t see their facial expressions and what they are saying is muffled. Individuals who have difficulty with communication often do better when they can take information from all aspects of their interaction with others and piece together the clues. But when others are wearing a mask, the ability to see a huge percentage of nonverbal language that comes from that section of their face is eliminated.

In addition, individuals with autism often do better with routine, and right now, that has changed entirely. In addition, those living in a residential treatment facility or group home cannot visit with their family. Add to all this an entirely new vocabulary of words they have never heard before – “social distancing,” “quarantine,” “COVID-19” and “coronavirus.” This could be a recipe for confusion which can lead to fear and anxiety, and all the natural coping behaviors  — some positive, others not so positive — that go along with them.

Read the full article here.