Texas Children's Hospital Autism Center and
Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics
Managing anxiety and stress in a time of crisis can seem overwhelming for parents as well as for kids. Please know that your team here at The Autism Center and Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics are here to support you if you have additional questions or concerns regarding your child's needs during this time.
Below you will find guidance on talking to your child about COVID-19, how to handle special education services with the school, and more!
With that said, we would like to update everyone regarding upcoming programming through our clinics.
Effective immediately, visitors to our building will be restricted to 2 adults and the child who has the appointment.
An Evening with Dr. Hotez at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, scheduled for April 16th, has been cancelled until further notice.
Parents' Night Out 2020, scheduled for April 17th, has been cancelled until further notice.
Social Motion Skills groups at our clinics are cancelled until further notice.
Other upcoming programs, including the Autism Resources and Related Services Workshop, will be conducted via the ZOOM platform and can be accessed via computer or smartphone. More information is to come regarding access to these programs.
Addressing stress and anxiety with your children is one of the most important things that you can do as their caregiver. Even if we think children do not understand or are not listening, often times children are very aware of their surroundings.
Symptoms of stress and or anxiety in children may present differently than in adults.
Anxiety Symptoms In Children May Include:
Behavioral changes such as moodiness, aggression, short temper, clinging
New fears of being alone, with strangers, or of the dark
Nervous habits that were not present before
Withdrawing from family and friends
Refusal to go places
Asking a lot of questions about the stressor (COVID_19)
Decreasing appetite or significantly increased appetite
Stomach aches or headaches
Sleep problems or nightmares
Keep in mind these general principles for talking to your children about coronavirus (COVID-19):
Remain calm and reassuring: Children will remember what you DO as well as what you SAY.
Make time to talk.
Avoid blaming language that may lead to stigma.
Pay attention to what children see and hear on television as well as social media.
Consider further limiting screen time to control exposure to media.
Give children information that is truthful, but appropriate for their DEVELOPMENTAL age.
Teach children everyday actions to reduce the spread of germs.
Social stories can also be a helpful tools in talking to children with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities about the world around them. These are stories that use pictures to explain what is happening and are often used to prepare children for doctor visits, airplane rides, school, etc.
See the link below for a social story that explains COVID-19 and the related school cancellations.
Mindfulness is an evidence-based therapeutic strategy that is based on a person's ability to be fully present and aware of their surroundings, while acknowledging one's own feelings (whether good or bad), and helps individuals to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and/or over-reactive. Mindfulness can help children, as well as adults, to be aware and remain in control of their emotional well-being.
Evidence supports the use of mindfulness in decreasing symptoms of biological, psychological, and social stresses. Mindfulness can be practiced individually or even better, as a family!
See the links below for mindfulness strategies and apps for kids: