We’ve shared below links to new and 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 ...

Some of these ideas may need a little PDA adaptation (see below for further ideas on this) and some may be interchangeable between adults and children, depending on the individual … 

Talking about coronavirus

Thank you to Sally Cat for creating this graphic for us

Mental health & well-being

UK Government information & guidance

Returning to School

It may also be helpful for parents to share these resources with their child’s school along with details of any PDA adaptations required.

Face coverings

Accessible information
– social stories etc.

Links for autistic adults

Links for parents & carers

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.

PDA Society resources

  • Our PDA Alert Cards and PDA Awareness Cards can be shown to people to explain PDA and how they can help – available from our shop in packs of 25 cards.
  • We’ve put together some PDA-related suggestions that may be helpful to include in healthcare passports.
  • Our rolling series of Q&A videos about PDA during the coronavirus pandemic. So far topics include: education; siblings; preparing children for life after the coronavirus outbreak; managing video calls and transition tips; helping PDA teens & young adults understand lockdown rules and hand washing tips for PDA 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

Q&As with PDA Society advisors

Over the coming weeks we’ll be recording a rolling series of Q&A videos about PDA during the coronavirus pandemic. So far topics include: education; siblings; preparing children for life after the coronavirus outbreak; managing video calls and transition tips; helping PDA teens & young adults understand lockdown rules and hand washing tips for PDA adults.

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.

For some autistic people hand washing may become quite an ‘obsession’ or researching the virus may become a very focused special interest – this may be fine or may require monitoring and support if it becomes more concerning from a mental health perspective.

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).

Education

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.

Our education advisor Jilly Davis answers questions from the PDA community about education during the coronavirus pandemic in this Q&A video. A written summary is also available.

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.


Resources & things to do whilst at home


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. Many local PDA support groups (listed here) are online and there’s a range of PDA Facebook support groups listed here as well. Our website discussion forum also offers peer to peer support.
  • 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!