Helping Your Kids Reduce Anxiety During Covid 19 Situation

Helping Your Kids Reduce Anxiety During the Covid 19 Situation

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We are currently living in a time that is unsettling. We do not know what tomorrow will look like, if we will have jobs, if we can pay bills, if school will finish this year, etc. I am beginning to notice a change in our kids as well with their anxiety raising.

Many kids are enjoying this long break from school. I predict in a few weeks they will all be bored after being stuck home, not going anywhere, and not spending time with friends. I also am anticipating many kids having high anxiety as parents and caregivers begin to experience financial strain, job loss, changes in jobs, etc.

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So what can you do as a parent or caregiver to support you kids?

  • Check in with them daily to see what they are thinking and feeling.
  • Remind your kids this situation is a grown-up problem, and they should just focus on them being a kid, doing their expectations, and enjoying a break from school.
  • Share with your kids any changes that are going to happen, including you working from home, the loss of a job, changes in finances, etc. Do not do this to raise their anxiety, but rather remind them you as the grown up have decisions to make to continue to support the family.
  • Explain to your kids the expectations each day that they have, i.e. chores, schoolwork, etc. Keep them structured with fun free time built in!
  • Be open and honest with them (but keep it age appropriate) about the global situation with Covid 19. Use this as an opportunity to teach them about global response, economy, health issues, sanitation of home and work area, etc.
  • If your child has a lot of anxiety, deal with it! Please do not let it go untreated. Again, support your child with their emotions, validate how they are feeling, remind them grown-ups are dealing with this situation, remind them they are safe at home, and if needed, seek out medical support with counseling and/or medication.
  • Many therapists and doctors are now offering temporary telehealth sessions for therapy and medical appointments. Reach out to those professionals for more support for your child.
  • Likely you as a parent or caregiver have high anxiety right now too, be careful to not show this to your kids. Keep this between you and other grown-ups in your life. Kids can often pick up on the anxiety from adults; show them your happiness, happy thoughts, etc!

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Hang in there! This is a crazy time but positive can come out of this situation. Enjoy the extra time you have with your family right now and teach them the board games we played growing up that they have never experienced! Find fun things at home to do, take time to do self-care, and most of all, just laugh and be silly with your kids!

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Jen Edwards, LMHC

Owner and Director of Beautiful Autism

Young Adults with Autism

Young Adults with Autism

                The experience of young adulthood is challenging enough without the aspect of Autism thrown on top of it.  Think about it, so much of young adulthood is the social aspect and the experience of getting a job and living independently.  These are not generally strengths of individuals with Autism.

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                They want so much to fit in and be on their own.  Their logical side can come up with the logistics of it- the budget, the plans, etc.  But it is such a challenge for them.  My heart aches for them, as they have these high ambitions with hesitancy and anxiety.  As parents, how can we help our children through this?

Social Skills in Young Adulthood

                Here is the scenario I often see: we push our kids with Autism to get involved socially in high school.  They are going to therapy and social skills classes.  They have assistants in their classes.  Parents follow up with teachers and staff at the schools constantly.  Parents help them through everything.  Then high school ends.  They are expected to possibly attend college and move forward with being an adult.  But they have had so much assistance throughout their childhood that they really do not have the maturity and knowledge to know figure it out.  We have held their hand through these social situations, and now they must do it on their own.

                Individuals with Autism can be very successful in college academically, but socially they struggle.  Many parents would say this is a curse in disguise, as generally they will not be attending the frat parties and get involved with illegal things.  But they begin to realize they do not fit in and anxiety and depression begins to rear its ugly head.

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                Then they begin applying for jobs.  But socially they tend to not know how to interview well.  They may be qualified for the job, but socially they cannot handle it.  Finding a job that does not require a lot of social skills can be difficult.

                Practice interview skills with your young adult.  Give them tips and ideas.  Help them find a job you know they can be successful at.  Use therapists to help with these skills and ideas as well.

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                Another idea is try to keep them involved in some type of social atmosphere.  For example, church groups or groups such as gaming groups might be a good fit.  Use their hobbies as ideas to find groups for them to connect with.  Basically, find a social group that they will likely stay with and enjoy.  I would also encourage the social skills groups, but those can be very therapy based- find something else also that is more natural and enjoyable.

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                There is also the aspect of romantic relationships, which honestly is a whole other post for another day!

Beginning College

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                In our culture today, we put so much success on going to college.  But honestly, people can be successful without college too, especially if it is a struggle for them.  Now do not get me wrong, I think college is great, but it is not for everyone.  If your child is struggling too much with it, do not push them.  Find alternatives such as online college or simply not going for now and focusing on job skills.

                This is the time in their life when you need to step back more and see what he/she is capable of doing.  It is hard for us as parents because we have done so much for them already, but they need the independence skills before they can go out on their own.

                First, find out what their ambitions are.  Have them write it out and make goals.  Have them also have backup plans if their first ambitions do not work out.  Then encourage them through their goals and support in ways you can without micromanaging.

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Moving out and Becoming Independent

                This is a scary step for any parent- watching their child becoming independent enough to move out on their own and support themselves.  With Autism this can be horrifying!  Can they handle the stress and concepts?  Can they pay bills and balance a checkbook?  Will they be able to socially adjust appropriately?  YIKES!

                Again, encourage your son or daughter and help them without micromanaging the situation.  Have them write out their goals and plans.  Take them through the basic steps and allow them to show you they can handle it.

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                But most of all, allow them to make their mistakes.  HARSH I know.  When the mistakes are made, help them clean it up and move forward.  And yes, this may mean moving back in, but now they understand what they need to do and have in order to gain the independence back again.  This section is honestly another post entirely.  But hopefully these thoughts and ideas can help prepare you for the beginning steps.

What to Plan for

                Start thinking now how this will look for your family and your child.  Start preparing them early while they are in high school for the challenges of life after school in adulthood.  Let them help with your billing and budget so they understand the processes behind the independence.  Encourage them to get involved in the social groups and hobbies.

                Being prepared and ahead of the situation is always best, especially with Autism.  Have plans and back up plans prepared.  Try not to push too much, but give them gentle pushes when needed.  And use a therapist to help through these transitions and ideas.  Often they will not listen to you because you are mom and dad.  Allow the therapist to push reality into them, and you encourage them and be their cheerleader.

                These are all things I work with on my young adult clients.  If you need help or ideas, contact me.

                Help your child be as successful as they can be!  Love them, encourage them, strengthen them.  Prepare yourself for being the parent, but also being their support and friend now that they are independent.  Good luck! 🙂

Contact Information

Jen Edwards

720-258-6392

jen@voyagescounseling.com

Being an Advocate for Autism

 

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Being an Advocate

                Advocate: to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly (taken from dictionary.com).  Or perhaps my definition: See parenting 101.

                It can be a challenge to be an advocate for someone, especially if they are your child and you are emotionally involved.  But this is an essential part of parenting; particularly for a special needs child.  You advocate at school, clubs, social settings, church, bus, etc.  And it can be emotionally draining and time consuming; but you just do it.

How to be an Advocate

                The biggest part of being an advocate for your child is to truly know and understand what your child needs.  This may take time and effort on your part doing research, talking to doctors and therapists, and knowing how the classroom functions on a daily basis.  However, it does not mean you have to be a professional in Autism; you just need to be a professional in the concern of your child.

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                Here are some tips for advocating:

·         Be sensitive to the situation- sometimes people just do not understand Autism.

·         Take a stand for what you believe is important, but try not to die on hills not worth fighting on.

·         If needed, get a professional advocate to help you.  Parents hire these individuals to help with school needs.

·         Listen to others; try not to always be defensive.  Generally people want to help, but often compromises will need to be made.

·         Go in knowing what you are talking about- do your research and be informed!

Challenges of Advocating

                Today I encountered an organization unsure if they can take my son into their program because of his Autism.  I was floored!  My heart sunk!  Really? I thought… This is crazy! He is high-functioning and does not need direct supervision all the time!  I decided to not jump on the defensive quite yet; I will wait to hear back from them and then if needed, get into my you messed with the wrong mom mode. 

                So, do I go in and yell and make a scene?  Well, after doing that, would you want your kid going somewhere that was now hostile and uncomfortable?  No, I will not make a scene.  I will let them explain their decision and reasoning and if needed, I will counteract.  Is this something worth getting into a huge battle over?  Probably not; I have other options.  However, this may be an opportunity to make a difference.  My biggest challenge is not acting emotional; I need a clear head with a calm attitude.  And I admit- sometimes I turn these things over to my husband (he is much more intimidating!). 

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                Advocating can be difficult.  You want what is best for your child, but you often have to make compromises.  We have generally had good experiences with advocating for our son, but there have been times when we have needed to take a stand.  It can be intimidating at first, but I suppose after a while you just get use to it.  Your skin becomes think, so to say, and you probably do it more than you realize because it is such a big part of your life.

Wrapping it up

                I am curious to hear some of your stories on advocating.  As a parent you never cease to advocate for your child, even when they are grown up.  Like I stated at the beginning, it is parenting 101; it is ingrained in us the moment we become parents. 

                Take your stand; do it wisely.  Be informed and be calm.  Ask others for advice and wisdom.  Be the best parent you can be!

Resources

I did a simple google search on “advocating for child with Autism” and came up with some great resources.  These are listed below.  They are filled with great information and ideas.

http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/community-connections/advocacy-can-make-all-difference

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/12/01/kappan_foster.html

http://www.autismsupportnetwork.com/news/how-become-advocate-your-child-autism-302201945