You are a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum. You know storms. You prepare for and handle emotional nor'easters several times a day, but the approach of Hurricane Sandy offers new challenges. Children on the spectrum often find overwhelming sensory experiences and unexpected changes to schedule challenging to cope with, so if Sandy hits us as expected, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Here are three tips to prepare:
1. Make a plan: Create a simple plan for preparedness for your child. Use pictures and simple drawings if your child is a visual learner. Avoid "worst case scenarios" if possible. Focus on the possible challenges in a simple "IF THIS, THAN THAT" format. For example, if the water shuts off, we drink bottled water.
2. Prepare sensory comfort objects: If you have a battery powered stereo, make a CD of some familiar and comforting songs that can be played over strong wind and rain. Create a mantra and repeat it often such as, "a little wind never hurt anyone!". Know where your child's comfort items are such as stuffed animals and blankets.
3. Keep calm, carry on: You are your child's best barometer. If they sense your fear and panic, they will feel it keenly. Use self care techniques, breathe deep. Take what you get.
Aaron Weintraub, MS runs child-centered social skills groups with a focus on children and teenagers with Pervasive Developmental Disorder,Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Strengths-based approach in a community based setting. Groups available in Tolland, Mansfield, Willimantic, Hartford, Vernon and Coventry Connecticut.