CEAT: information for parents & schools regarding service provision during the coronavirus COVID19 situation

Click here to read CEAT Information for Parents and Schools during Coronavirus as a pdf

Cheshire East Autism Team (CEAT) Information for parents and schools regarding service provision during the coronavirus COVID-19 situation

During this very difficult time, we in the Cheshire East Autism Team want to assure all our parent/carers and schools that we are here to support you and are continuing to provide key services, albeit through new and different means of communication. In order to provide the best support in these unprecedented times, we have modified systems in place.

Currently:
• All members of our team are working
• This includes all Specialist Teachers, Specialist Support Assistants, our Speech and Language Therapist and our Family Liaison Officer
Although all team members are working remotely at this time, we will aim to continue to provide the following:
• Specialist advice and guidance to parents, schools, and other agencies
• Links to useful information
Contact
As far as possible, within Government Guidelines for social distancing and the minimising of contact, all members of the team will aim to work flexibly with parents and families, educational and medical professionals, as well as any other agencies that may be involved with the child.
How to contact us:
If you have a question or an issue you would like to discuss with one of our team, you can email us on theautismteam@cheshireeast.gov.uk
Please let us know:
• your name
• your relationship to the child/young person
• the child/young person’s age
• the concern you have
• your phone number if you would like us to telephone you
We will then email you a response with some guidance and advice.

All contact will be acted on and we will aim to respond as soon as possible. Please bear in mind, however, that we are a small team and how quickly we can respond will depend upon the number of requests we receive.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you need to. We know that this is a difficult and challenging time for us all, but the Cheshire East Autism Team is here to help you in any way we can.
We hope you and your families are, and remain, safe and well.

USEFUL LINKS AND INFORMATION:
We have placed a range of resources which we hope will be helpful on the CEAT website:
https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/livewell/local-offer-for-children-with-sen-and-disabilities/education/supporting-send-in-education/pupils-with-asc/autism.aspx
This can also be accessed by googling Cheshire East Autism Team or through the Cheshire East Live Well website, which we will continue to update over the coming weeks. Other useful sources of support include:
The National Autistic Society (NAS) have useful resources on their website and are also available on twitter with help and advice
www.ican.org.uk
www.autismeducationtrust.org.uk/autism-awareness-week/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=DA_SsZFYw0w&fbclid=IwAR3Sz7Hyq_M5jbywLiKzncTjTThcerZg4kVlW7GbnDysSNiRD7eeQ2oYF7A&app=desktop (link to social distancing story)
Chatterpack.net (SALT activities)
www.Copingskillsforkids.com
www.Speechandlanguage.info
www.signalong.org.ok
Young Minds – Talking to your child about Coronavirus and 10 tips from their Parents Helpline to support family wellbeing: https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/
www.elsa-support.co.uk

Teaching your child at home
Schools have been sending a lot of information and resources home. Whilst this is helpful, it can also feel overwhelming.

Remember:

  • You are not a teacher, so if it’s a tough day, 5 minutes of maths is better than none.
  • Starting small and building up can be helpful
  • Try and take the pressure off; remember children who are in school aren’t following the national curriculum; schools are providing child care only.
  • The work that schools are sending home is revision and recapping.
    Education and learning is about more than literacy and numeracy. This could be a unique opportunity to support and encourage your child to learn valuable life skills, e.g.
  • Doing any activity together is a way of developing your child’s social communication and social understanding,
  • Activities such as gardening, cooking, household chores, using money and helping with shopping are also essential aspects of your child’s learning, so try to encourage them to be involved.
  • Continue to model appropriate social skills, for example use games to support your child in taking turns with others. Ask your child to ask family members what they would like to eat/ drink or what would they like to play. These social scripts will support and develop their social skills further.

This is a time to just be, regroup and, if at all possible, enjoy. We have put together the following guidelines to help you:

Firstly, children and young people needing to know ‘why’ is key. It helps them understand the purpose of the task. Each household’s ‘why’ will be different, for example “because when you go back to school we need to make sure you are up to date with your learning”.

This can be done using a social story, or the ‘why do I have to’ formula, which involves collaborating with the young person to try and find ideas that may help.

Structure and routines:

  • Be clear and consistent and make things visual whenever possible. Resources and visuals can be downloaded from the websites listed above. These can be very useful but you can always make your own with your young person. These can include photographs, drawings, lists and drawing on a white board. Just make sure that the young person understands what they are looking at.
  • Try and give children an element of choice, as this can be a good motivator, as they feel they have some control over the activity. An immediate decision they could make is give their new ‘school’ a name and design a badge.
  • Establish rules (not too many) and make them visual and visible.
  • Share your ‘power’ as the authority figure with your child. This helps to increase a child’s confidence and decision making skills by empowering him or her to participate in educational decisions. This also helps develop critical thinking skills.
  • Let your child select a curriculum that includes topics of interest, appeals to visual strengths and provides the kind of structure that works for them.
  • Use a calendar, family planner or white board to show ‘school days’, ‘no-school days’ and ‘holidays’ visually.
  • Try and make a visual time table. A white board can be good for this, as it builds in flexibility. Try and involve the young person in this. You can set up a framework of some constants e.g. times of ‘school’ day, lunch and breaks. You may decide there are some non-negotiables, e.g. getting out of pyjamas, and also some tasks that need to be completed every day. You could also have a list of options that can be done after the ‘compulsory’ tasks. It may help to grade them e.g. 1- non-negotiable, 2- desirable and 3 extras – almost a pick and mix menu.
  • Keep this visual timetable visible to your child, so they can view it daily and check it through the day. Try and make it interactive so they can check off things they do throughout the day.
  • If possible, try to allocate a specific work space. This way your child can primarily associate this space with their learning and will find it easier to switch off when in other parts of the house.
  • Use the young person’s passions/ fixations to engage them. Try and find an aspect of your child’s favourite topic that can be incorporated into their learning activities.
  • Some children may need to have tasks planned for the day/ week before. If this is the case then make sure you build in alternatives, e.g.’ If it’s dry we will… but if it’s wet we will…’
  • Other children may prefer to have a ‘planning meeting’ every morning.
  • Starting a question for your child will help them to understand how to start their own question.
  • Your child will often struggle to know where to begin on a page or how much to write. Put a dot on the page to indicate where to start and where to stop on the page.

Sensory and physical activities:

  • Try and build physical activity and movement breaks throughout the day which will allow you and your child to relax and refocus.
  • It is important to build in time alone for our children. Some children with ASC need extended periods (up to an hour) alone at regular periods during the day. If a child does not have their own bedroom or ‘space’, then try using a visual. For example, a ‘do not disturb’ sign can be put on the door of a shared bedroom to indicate that it is the young persons alone time. Siblings could be taught about the need to respect this. A box of activities could be set up to do during alone time.

Emotional and social support:

  • Try and give plenty of warning and preparation about changes to the schedule and build in alternatives.
  • A great way to monitor progress and understanding is by flipping the classroom dynamic. After you have covered a topic, swap the pupil/ teacher role and get the young person to teach you what they have learned. This is another opportunity to give them choice; they can plan and teach the lesson.
  • Try and keep some contact with school and friends. Consider email, Skype and other communication apps, and letters. These activities can be incorporated into learning.
  • Support and encourage your young person to talk about their feelings and explore with them ways of staying calm and relaxed. Again, there are resources which can be downloaded from the websites listed above.
  • If your child is feeling stressed/ upset, it is useful to plan times for relaxation. There are various methods of destressing, which will be different for each child. Some young people may require sensory toys to help them to maintain focus or to calm themselves. Some children like to use fiddle toys or weighted blankets. Others may want to play with slime, kinetic sand or blow bubbles. There are many suppliers online who can offer these types of equipment/resources.
  • Use a five point scale (see CEAT website) to help your child to be able to communicate their feelings. You could also use five point scale characters (found online), so that it is more fun for younger children.
  • A mood band on the wrist, which is green one side and red on the other side, to indicate subtly what mood your child is feeling, can be useful, as the young person may struggle to communicate this emotion to you and to others.

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