Last March 2020, the lives of many were significantly altered in many ways. Due to the pandemic, what was once deemed as normal or routine, swiftly shifted to unknown and unpredictable. Dr. Chris Furlow, Canopy Children’s Solutions (Canopy), Director of Autism Solutions, understands the impact of the pandemic as it relates to children with autism and their families.

“Children responded differently to the shutdown, and shelter in place mandates,” said Furlow. Referring to the children that Canopy serves, Furlow and his staff observed that many children managed quite well during the midst of the pandemic. They were able to keep engaging in therapy sessions virtually and continued to make progress. Some parents were able to keep, or get their child into a routine which greatly helped regulate the days. “If parents want to continue seeing progress through uncertain times such as these, setting a daily routine or schedule for children would definitely help accomplish that,” explained Furlow.

In addition to a daily routine, Dr. Furlow suggests carving out time for positive interactions with your child, “With everyone under increased stress lately, it is important to have that positive interaction time. It doesn’t require much, just 5 minutes here and there to let your child know that you are there.” Asking your child about their day, reading a short story together, or having a fun exercise session are just a few ways to have those impactful moments.

“What can I do to help?”, is a question many have when thinking on how they can lend a hand to families they may know in the autism community. “Just being there and letting them know you’re available to help is a good way to start,” said Furlow. Sometimes, parents may just need a break to have a date night, or go grocery shopping, if they’re comfortable with the idea, volunteer to babysit for a night so they can get a breather. There are many ways others can be helpful to families.

As Autism Awareness Month comes to an end, remember it takes a continuous effort to keep pushing the mission of autism awareness throughout the whole year. For parents with children in the autism community, keep the shared tips in mind to help make things go a little smoother. For those wanting to support children and families with autism, strive to be understanding and compassionate, ready to lend a helping hand, especially during these times.

To learn more about the autism solutions offered by Canopy, visit mycanopy.org or call 800.388.6247.