Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is impacting all Australians in some way. For individuals with FASD, disrupted routines, uncertainty about school closures and travel plans, an overload of information, and many other factors are likely causing anxiety and distress. NOFASD has compiled some useful resources for families, and we will update this list over the coming months. If you have any valuable information to add please contact us or write it in the comments section below.
If you want to talk to someone, please feel free to contact the FASD Helpline on 1800 860 613.
A guide for individuals with FASD
What You Can Do About Coronavirus – a guide for those with FASD
People with FASD and their families can take some steps to help prepare for coronavirus. NOFAS-UK has prepared a summary of Public Health England’s “Coronavirus (COVID-19) – 5 things you can do to protect yourself and your community”. This document is more accessible to those with a disability and includes content specifically for those with FASD. Download the 6-page PDF.
Talking about coronavirus
You may find some valuable ideas in this article on how to talk to children and teenagers about the Coronavirus. Advice is given for children of different age groups, enabling you to choose the advice that matches the developmental age of your child. Some general strategies on how to talk to your children about bad news are available here, and in this video.
News about the coronavirus, or its impacts, may be affecting your child’s mental health. The CDC’s tips for managing stress and anxiety include strategies to help parents reduce the stress experienced by their young people.
Hand washing and good hygiene is really important, but can be difficult to teach to children with FASD. Visual aids like posters can help explain to children how to keep themselves safe and healthy. Download these posters from the Victoria’s Health Hub:
These downloadable worksheets may provide an age-appropriate resource for teaching children about germs and hygiene, and these short videos may also be helpful:
Another valuable visual is this one developed by the NT government:
As of the 18th March, there is no plan for widespread school closures (abc.net.au), however this is a possibility in the future, and some families are choosing to keep their children at home. This link, from the Home Education Network, provides information for families considering keeping their children home. If you are keeping you children home, please be reassured that you are not expected to become a professional teacher. We recommend you read this letter to parents from a school principal.
Some schools affected by COVID-19 have been temporarily closed, and it is possible that there will be more school closures in the coming weeks. Below are some resources and ideas for keeping your children busy at home. All children with FASD are unique, so please consider your child’s developmental age, capabilities, strengths and challenges when deciding which of these activities is suitable for them.
Check out these activities to keep your child active at home, or follow this link for 20 activities to keep your children busy and learning if they are home from school.
Some activities include:
- Build self-esteem by making a strengths chain or an accomplishment box
- If your child is able, encourage reading at home. If they don’t want to read books, this link lists alternate things for kids to read
- Include them in the household chores. You may consider one of these chores for kids who struggle with focus
Audiobooks could be a good way to keep young people and adults entertained at home. There are multiple audiobook apps available, including BorrowBox which is free to anyone with a library membership – download books in your own home! Learn more
Self-care and mental health
During this stressful time it is essential that everyone take care of themselves and find healthy strategies to manage stress and anxiety. Lifeline is available on 13 11 14 or online for anyone who is struggling and wants to talk to someone, 24 hours per day.
You may like to try a mindfulness app like Smiling Mind to support resilience and mental health.
Beyond Blue provides a long list of helpful strategies, including strategies for those in self-isolation – Looking after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak. They also recommend getting your news from reliable sources, and limiting the information which you receive through news coverage and social media. These sites are recommended:
- Australian Government coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert
- Health Direct – Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- gov.au – travel information for Australian citizens
- World Health Organization – coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak
For information on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), call the Australian Government’s National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 and visit HealthDirect for updates and FAQs.
View part 2 of this blog for more resources and ideas
Our team at NOFASD hopes that your family stays healthy during this stressful time, and that your routines and daily lives are as comfortable as possible given the circumstances. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can provide support.
Read more NOFASD Australia blogs