When the world shuts down, autism doesn’t.
First, I want to give a huge shout-out to families who have a member with autism. This pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but especially for you. In a before-quarantine life, things were already challenging enough, but now you have added pressure. Things have changed in your career life, your social life, and your home life more than ever.
The autism community relies on assistance from caretakers, healthcare workers, and social services, and these needs don’t go away just because of school, business, and clinic closures. When the COVID-19 crisis began, the autism community was forced to figure out how to continue critical services in a world required to be socially distant. Now, more than ever, this community had to come together and show up for one another.
A couple of weeks after the world seemingly shut down, I was offered telehealth training to continue ABA services for my clients with autism. Initially, I had no idea how it would work. I wondered how I would get my clients to sit in front of a screen for two hours and listen to me. Or how I would communicate with my client who has hearing loss. Luckily, we live in the age of technology, which allows us to provide services even in quarantine. Conducting a quick search online, I have discovered many interactive games for kids that can be shared between the kid and therapist via video chat. Another good way to get kiddo’s attention is by sharing your screen with their favorite music video or playing a game on a shared whiteboard screen. Therapists and parents can also run many lessons using these tips. Technology is great, but without the help of dedicated families, telehealth would be impossible. When the world shut down, these families kept going. They have been there ready to take direction, to learn, and to expand their ABA knowledge. The dedication I have seen from parents and siblings has brought me so much joy and is what has made telehealth a success during this pandemic.
It is incredible to me how fast these families have adjusted to the daily life of teletherapy. Lately, the world had been short of consistency, and they understand how important it is to keep consistency in the lives of kids with autism. Families have offered support by implementing the direction of the therapist, creating a good workspace for their kids, and most importantly, giving their kids all of the social praise. I have seen my clients grow during these times and become more involved around the house. Some of my clients are doing their morning routine independently. Some look forward to telehealth as a part of their day. My teenage client has been completing a daily list of chores around the house. During a global crisis, these families have really stepped up and are a huge part of these success stories.
These times have been tough for everyone and all we can do is be there for the people who need us most. I do this job because I absolutely love it and am inspired by it every single day. I am inspired by my colleagues who continue working hard during a crisis. I am inspired by the families who continue to put their kiddos first. Most of all, I am inspired by these kids and their tremendous hard work. Thank you to all of those in the autism community working to get through this global pandemic and help one another along the way, and remember: you are our heroes.
About the Author
Anna Rogers is a Behavior Technician and graduate student pursuing her master’s in Behavioral Psychology. She has been involved in the applied behavior analysis field for three years and plans to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Her passion comes from growing up in public schools and seeing the needs of persons with autism not being met. She plans to help integrate ABA services into public schools and help as many kiddos as possible.