We’ve shared below links to existing resources and some helpful approaches for PDAers, plus a list of free resources that are available whilst we’re all at home social distancing or self-isolating.

We’ll keep updating this page with additional information, ideas and resources – and please do let us know if you have other tips or links to share …

Tips on talking with children about coronavirus

These ideas may need a little PDA adaptation (see below for further ideas on this) … 

Thank you to Sally Cat for creating this graphic for us

Links for autistic adults

Other useful links

Helpful approaches with PDA during the coronavirus outbreak

There are general tips in the helpful approaches for children, self-help and coping strategies for adults and webinars sections and here are some specific ideas:

Sharing information

Explain that the World Health Organisation is advising these measures and that everyone all over the world is having to make changes. Focus on simple, scientific explanations from reputable experts (such as the ‘science of soap’ article in the list above).

Explore more indirect ways to share information – maybe printing information out and making it available to read or sharing information via email/instant messaging?

Demands & anxiety

Rephrase demands – for example: ‘the hand wash is on the sink’, ‘I wonder who can think of a song/poem to sing/say whilst we wash our hands’, ‘let’s list the top 10 dinosaurs whilst we wash our hands’, ‘I can’t seem to remember how to wash my hands properly, please can you remind me?’ …

Keep calm and matter of fact, and offer alternatives if usual activities aren’t possible – ‘it’s not possible to (go to the cinema/visit Granny) right now but instead we can (bake a cake/Skype her)’

Find ways to enable your child to be in charge – could they supervise the household’s hand washing or organise shopping for vulnerable relatives or neighbours for instance?

Understand that your child may be extremely anxious – accept that things may be tricky especially whilst everyone adjusts to the ‘new normal’, try to be as patient as you can, reduce demands in other areas where possible and focus on mental health. The World Health Organisation has produced a document in relation to mental health considerations at this time, as have Young Minds.

Feeling in control

Focus on the things you can control – e.g. following government advice and finding things to keep you distracted/occupied whilst socially distancing/self-isolating – and not on things you can’t.

For children (and adults) who may already practise ‘social distancing’ or ‘self-isolation’, seeing the rest of the world also adopting these measures may feel quite validating and they could position themselves as having expert lived experience in this area

Emotional well-being

Provide reassurance that whilst currently we don’t know how long these measures will be in place, life will return to normal in the future. Maybe acknowledge the things you miss, spend time thinking about some of the benefits of the present situation (e.g. recharging batteries, spending time as a family, having a chance to do things we might not normally have time for, exploring alternative and creative ways of working/interacting …) and then focus on what you’ll do in future when the restrictions are lifted.

Some autistic people may also become ‘fixated’ about hand washing or researching the virus, so it may be important to provide balanced factual information from reputable experts to help assuage some concerns.

Try to find and share positive news stories relating to coronavirus – e.g. community initiatives, acts of kindness, recovery rates, environmental benefits etc. (for instance, this BBC News article has 5 positive points).

Sensory difficulties

Remember there may be some sensory issues to take account of – there are some useful handwashing tips from Sensory Integration Education and many suggestions online for how to incorporate a sensory diet into your day or create a DIY sensory room (see below links for some suggestions).


Schools will be providing access to online materials/classes – and there are lots of free resources available with more coming on stream every day (see below for some suggestions). Some children may like some continued routine/structure; others may prefer to ‘go with the flow’ more. Doing things together, including academic work, can help reduce the sense of demand. Remember, though, that everyone’s mental health and well being needs to remain the priority.

Other tips

Coping with the coronavirus outbreak – tips from adult PDAers

During this time it may be helpful to consider relaxing screen time limits etc.

Try to remember your own self-care during this time too – easier said than done but probably more essential now than ever.

ARFID – Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

If you or your child is only able to eat safe foods, ARFID Awareness UK has made letters available to help explain this and request exemption from restrictions on purchase quantities of these items.

Resources and other useful links

  • List of free resources and other useful links that are available whilst we’re all at home social distancing or self-isolating.
  • We’ve made our PDA Alert Cards and PDA Awareness Cards available to print at home whilst sales and postage of our merchandise and literature are temporarily suspended. Once printed, the cards can be cut out and folded in half.

Other thoughts …

  • Maintaining contact with the outside world will be important for everyone during this period of social distancing and self-isolation – fortunately there are lots of ways to keep in touch and maintain a sense of community using modern technology.
  • Likewise, there may be opportunities for home and online working which may suit some autistic people well.
  • Do let us know if you have other tips or links to share with our PDA community!