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Helping children with additional needs understand Coronavirus

Many children are worried about the Coronavirus (also known as Covid-19) and as parents, other family members, or children's and youth workers, we are likely to be worried about how to keep them safe. Much of the information circulating at the moment is scary, over-hyped and sensationalised and this can really upset for children, especially those with additional needs who may struggle to comprehend what they are seeing and hearing.

Imagine what they are thinking when they see people fighting over toilet rolls or packets of pasta, or when someone tells them that school is closed and that they can’t see their friends for weeks or even months. How do we explain this?

Here are some resources that you can use to help the children you are in contact with to understand Coronavirus better, as well as why things are so different at the moment. There are also resources that can help you to explain about school being closed, as well as what you will be doing at home each day, and a prayer that you can use: 

MindHeart Social Story About Coronavirus

Here’s a great social story* resource from MindHeart (@mindheart.kids) about the Coronavirus that helps children to get to know about the virus a little bit.
You can download the free printable social story here: Hello I'm Coronavirus 

Triple A Alliance Social Story

A really helpful social story* has been put together by the Triple A Alliance (@TripleAAlliance). The social story that helps us to explain more about how to stay safe from Coronavirus to children:

*Social stories are short descriptions of particular situations, events or activities, which include information about what to expect in that situation and why. As with all social stories, those that have been written by others should only be used as a template. Every social story should be personalised for the people they are being written for if possible. If you want to find out more about how to create social stories, visit Reach Out ASC's website: https://www.reachoutasc.com/resources (scroll to the bottom for links to info on social stories). 

Widget Resources

For some useful information, social stories, and symbols/graphics about staying safe from germs and washing your hands, click here for a free printable download: Widget washing-your-hands

Here's a great Widget resource to help children understand about school being closed:

There is also an excellent prayer/daily office including Widget symbols provided by our friends Disability and Jesus, which you might like to look at and use at this time, especially as we are unable to get to church: http://anordinaryoffice.org.uk/index.php/covid-19/

Twinkl Home School Resources Available Free

There are inspirational lesson plans, schemes of work, assessment, interactive activities, resource packs, PowerPoints, teaching ideas at Twinkl. Twinkl are offering free access to their site and resources to support you as you work with children at home. Visit the Twinkl site at www.twinkl.co.uk/offer and use the promotional code PARENTSTWINKLHELPS to get free access to the resources while schools are closed.

For Teenagers Or Young Adults With Learning Disability

These are some really helpful resources from the Council for Intellectual Disability in Australia, and are a great way of explaining Coronavirus/Covid-19 to teenagers or young adults with intellectual/learning disability:

Staying safe from Coronavirus: Staying-safe-from-Coronavirus-council-intellectual-disability-Mar2020

Viruses and Staying Healthy: Viruses-staying-healthy-Council-Intellectual-Disability

Additional resources are available on the Additional Needs Alliance website. Go to https://additionalneedsalliance.org.uk/information/ then choose 'Resources' and 'Our Time At Home'.

Mark Arnold is additional needs ministry director at Urban Saints (urbansaints.org/additionalneeds) and co-founder of the Additional Needs Alliance. He is father to James, who has autism, and blogs at the additionalneedsblogfather.com