By Patricia Wright, Ph.D. MPH

Patricia Wright, Senior VP of Program Development, offers her thoughts on how parents might mitigate anxiety for themselves and their children with autism during tough times.

  1. This is a fluid situation. Stay informed but try not to check your newsfeed constantly. This will contribute to your anxiety, which will be picked up by your children.
  2. A positive focus on what you can do to control yourself and your environment is best. This will also help model for your child with autism how to manage their anxiety.
  3. Structure the days for yourself and your family and stick to the schedule with discipline to manage expectations and establish order.
  4. Schedule the use of previously learned, self-regulation strategies several times a day. For example, if your child has learned how to use guided relaxation, deep breathing, meditation, or other strategies to remain calm, then practice these strategies on a schedule with them.  If your child does not have a strategy, now might be a good time to start one.
  5. Do something together that is positive and/or constructive – cooking, baking, Spring cleaning, helping an elderly neighbor with shopping. Studies have shown that during times that feel out of our control, helping others helps.
  6. Engage in regular exercise; it could be as simple as taking a walk as a family at a scheduled time every day to get fresh air.
  7. Schedule a time to discuss your child’s worries, if they express them. Put it on the daily family calendar and try not to let the worry overtake your every conversation.
  8. Here is some reading about that you can do on your own.