Autism and coronavirus

Thursday, April 2nd 2020 is World Autism Day and Parental Choice is looking at the effects of the current coronavirus situation on those with autism.  Now more than ever, they will be feeling the effects of the changes we are all experiencing.

The current coronavirus crisis has seen the world as we know it come to a shuddering halt. Entire countries have gone into lockdown, schools have been forced to close their doors and people are being urged to stay inside to prevent the virus from spreading.

Major cities and towns that were once a constant hive of activity now resemble ghost towns as only key workers venture out on to the streets. Pubs, clubs, restaurants and cinemas have now closed and large gatherings like concerts and sporting events that brought so much joy to many have been cancelled.

These draconian steps that have limited our freedom of movement have been monumental, but ultimately essential as we try to contain this highly contagious disease. We are living in unchartered times and the changes to society are hard to comprehend for most, let alone those who are caring for children who have additional needs, such as autism.

Some autistic people say the world feels overwhelming and this can cause them considerable anxiety. In order to help them deal with daily life, they choose to follow a regular routine. This may involve travelling to school in a set way, eat the same food every day or be in a certain place at a defined time. This structure is a coping mechanism that helps keep their emotions intact.

Changing this routine can be challenging for all concerned. Children with autism may become emotional or lash out if their routine is altered in any way.

Unfortunately, coronavirus has changed everyone’s routine.

So how do you keep children with autism entertained when life as they know it has been put on hold for the foreseeable future?

So how do you keep children with autism entertained when life as they know it has been put on hold for the foreseeable future?

Attempt to replicate as much of their usual routine as possible. With schools closed, try to follow their usual school day in terms of lunch breaks, play time and subjects. Staying true to a familiar process, albeit in a different environment, may give them the structure they need.

Another common trait for people with autism is having an intense and highly-focused interest. Whether it be trains, computers, music or art, people with autism tend to develop a deep passion for a particular subject. Ensure they can continue to pursue this passion within their daily schedule.

Explain changes to routine using clear and simple language in order to help structure expectations and reduce anxiety. Give them time to adapt and expect challenges along the way.

As a parent, be mindful of your own resilience and be sure to seek support where possible. Useful resources include the Autism Support Network as well as The National Autistic Society.


Parental Choice helps working families secure care solutions for their children and elderly relatives, all backed up with a comprehensive payroll, pension and legal team.

We have experience in working with families where there are special educational needs, so if you are looking for education options for your child who requires additional support, please get in touch, we can help with one of our school searches.

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