The conversation is flowing around our dinner table. I laugh at my fourth grader’s latest joke. Soon, the mood switches as we discuss coronavirus. Despite the gravity of the topic, I enjoy the back and forth flow of the conversation, knowing that we can discuss what is happening to the world and confident in our ability to alleviate our children’s concerns.
His Brain Can’t Process Our Words
Then I look at my adorable teenager (yes, I am lucky enough to be able to pair those two words up). He is eating nicely, oblivious to the conversation around him.
I know that he cannot understand what we are discussing. His brain can’t process our words; they are just background noises to him. But, I know he can feel the negative vibes, and I wonder if he’s worried.
I owe it to him to explain why he doesn’t go to school anymore, why we work from home and why he sees us exiting and entering the house wearing those weird face masks.
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.”
My child, as so many children on the autism spectrum, cannot learn through verbal communication. He needs images. Since this is the way he learns, I know I must use images to reach him. Luckily, I have the perfect tool for this:
To prepare my son for each new experience, I create a visual social story.
What Are the Benefits of Social Stories for Children With Autism?
Visual stories help our son understand what will happen in a given situation and what we expect of him. Thanks to a social story, Zach understood that he was getting a flu shot, that he had to stay seated while flying or that the house we moved all our stuff into was now our home.
It doesn’t mean that he was happy about that flu shot or that he never fussed while flying, but at least he could comprehend the circumstances. His anxiety level was down, and life was more manageable for everyone.
Usually, we create a visual story before the event. With COVID-19, however, the lockdown took us by surprise. And because our world was upside down, it took me nearly two weeks to craft the story. I really wish Zach could have received the information along with his brothers. I was relieved, though, when we finally sat to go through the small book together.
It saddens me to no end that, seven months later, the coronavirus story is still relevant. I wish I could file it away and forget about it.
The least I can do is share this resource with anyone that might benefit from it. If your child or your students would benefit from such a story, please, download it.
Where Can You Find the COVID-19 Social Story?
It is available as a freebie in my TpT store (in both print and digital versions).
If you don’t have a TpT account and do not wish to create one, you can access it from this website, on the free resource library page.
Click here to request access to my free resource library.