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This page was last updated: 24th June 2020

Information for parents and carers to help you support children and teens with special needs during the coronavirus pandemic

Children with SEND including mental health issues 

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Coronavirus is scary for all of us. For children with ADHD and comorbid anxiety disorder, school closures and health threats are downright paralyzing. Here are 11 expert tips for talking to your child about COVID-19, navigating the next few weeks at home together, and living with the constant hum of uncertainty in an ADHD household.

Within the autism community we will face some unique challenges from the coronavirus outbreak. Here is some advise for parents of autistic children from Rosie Weldon, an autistic adult.

Peter Vermeulen has over 30 years of experience of autism, both academically and practically. He is an established author and speaker, and founder and CEO of Autism in Context, Here he shares 20 tips to help cope with COVID-19 crisis if you have autism or if you are a parent of a child on the spectrum.

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A page of autism and coronavirus articles from the American Autism Parenting magazine including reducing anxiety, ways of coping, and meeting your child.s sensory needs,


At this time when so much of life feels ‘out of control’, parents and carers might be struggling to know how to support a young person suffering with an eating disorder might feel like their preoccupation with food, weight and shape is worse at the moment. Beat give some advice on how to give their child (or other person) extra reassurance and support during the coronavirus pandemic.

Advice for parents and carers looking after children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).


Support for kids With ADHD during the coronavirus crisis - families everywhere are struggling to care for (and homeschool!) children cut off from their normal routines and activities during the coronavirus crisis. Kids with ADHD may need extra structure and support to manage attention and behaviour challenges and keep on track with learning in this challenging situation. Here are some suggestions from ADHD experts for helping kids with ADHD weather this storm.

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Kids may not have the words to talk about what they are feeling or going through, so it is especially important for parents to check in with their kids and keep an eye on how they may be reacting. Whether or not your child has OCD or a related disorder, this may still be a stressful time for them. If they do live with OCD or a related disorder, you may notice their symptoms getting worse or more intense. IOCDF gives tips for parents of all children, plus ones for children with OCD.

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Lockdown is difficult for most people, but this can be particularly acute for those with autism spectrum disorder. If you’re a parent of an autistic child, you’ll potentially have already seen the effects of school closures and routine changes in your little one. The Metro spoke with the National Autistic Society to get their top tips on helping parents and their children cope, 

Now that social distancing and self-quarantine are very real parts of our world right now, many children will be home for weeks to come without a real end date. If you’re a parent of an autistic child, this upcoming change in your schedule is likely triggering your own anxiety. Dr Liz Matheis, clinical and school psychologist specializing in anxiety, ADHD, autism, learning disability and behaviour management, gives a few ideas on how we are going to get through this, one day at a time. 

The current coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent lockdown, is difficult for everybody, but for some autistic people of all ages these things could trigger intense stress and lead to a meltdown or a shut down. The National Autistic Society has collected a series of useful resources that autistic people and their families can use during this time of changes.

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Coronavirus and support for deaf children – information for families. This blog has been written for families with deaf children. It covers things that parents need to be aware of in the coming days and weeks, such as school closures, access to hearing aid repairs and batteries, and supporting deaf children during the spread of coronavirus.

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Sunshine Support provide independent information, advice and support to parents/carers and professionals of children and young people with special educational needs. Everyone is anxious about the coronavirus outbreak but he worry becomes heightened when you're a parent of a child with Special Educational Needs or a professional who supports a child with Special Educational Needs. Their leading educational solicitors provide advice on education during the school closure.


Children may be experiencing a wide range of emotions during this transition to homeschooling, from fear and anxiety to excitement and enthusiasm. Even positive emotions can be unsettling. The Centre for Inclusive Education at UCL makes some suggestions designed to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone

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WellChild appreciates that there is a lack of clear guidance for families caring for a child with serious or complex medical needs at home during the coronavirus crisis. They have therefore put together the a page of information taken from a range of sources that they hope you will find useful.

If you are worried about your child's mental health, there is help available. Please see our pages of child mental health information and helplines for parents and carers

Videos for parents and carers of children with SEND

Natasha Daniels is a child therapist specializing in OCD and anxiety. She discusses how to help kids quell compulsions exacerbated by news of the coronavirus.

Dr Max Davie, an ADHD specialist from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health,provides practical advice for parents of children with ADHD to apply during the lockdown.

In this special edition of 60 Second Science, Andrew discusses the Coronavirus as it relates to children on the autism spectrum and offers some helpful tips for carers on how to manage anxiety.

Coronavirus advice for parents/carers of children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Videos for children with SEND

Video explaining coronavirus to children with special needs using images and Makaton.

Signed cartoon animation helps to explain why, when and how hands should be washed with signing. Not coronavirus specific. 

Video social story to help autistic children understand some of the changes we have made in our daily lives due to coronavirus.

Makaton version of Matt Lucas' Baked Potato song which he has updated to instruct children to wash their hands, stay indoors and not touch their faces as a charity endeavour to provide hot meals to NHS staff.  



Podcast about issues that may arise for autistic children including the disruption of closing schools, anxiety and obsessive behaviours, focusing on practical tips like how to help manage anxiety, maintain structure and support and explain the situation to young people, as well as coping with school closures. Additionally, tips on how to keep well as a parent and reliable sources for coronavirus updates.

You can find suggestions of books to help children manage their feelings and videos for children and other resources on our Children and young people's coronavirus page.

Social stories for children with an ASD or learning disability

A short social story by Carol Gray with facts about coronavirus. With photos, not illustrations.

Short social story with illustrations about coronavirus and what is happening at the moment.

A story about Freddy, a 6-year-old with an ASD in mainstream, and what happens when his class is told about coronavirus and that his school will be closing. Mainly text, with a few illustrations and a couple of questions for children to think about at the end.

A set of simple illustrations to remind autistic children how to wash their hands.

Social story for school students.

Resources for parents/carers of children with SEND

Families across the country are adapting to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the coronavirus pandemic. School psychologists and school nurses in America share some tips.

This information pack by Community Family Psychology, Neurodevelopmental Team and Children’s Occupational Therapy, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, aims to support parents of children with an ASD or LD during this tricky time and will hopefully make things a little more manageable.

A poster to print out and put on your front door to advise visitors to your home of the precautions they need to take when there is a vulnerable person living in the home. Produced by WellChild.

Toolkit aimed at helping tp support your autistic child at home during this time of uncertainty. by providing struct-ure to your child’s day at home, no matter his/her age. Published by easterseals. Illinois Autism Partnership.

Information about want what will happen should you become ill and cannot look after your child or if you are concerned about the staff support their family member receives in your home from the Challenging Behaviour Foundation.

eBook on how the Coronavirus Act changes duties under the Children and Families Act, specifically as they relate to SEND Law from The Special Needs Jungle.

A chart to encourage your child to wash their hands.

For children with an ASD the impact of self-isolating on family life can be profound. Peterborough Autism Advisory Teacher Service offer some guidance, strategies and resources for parents and carers.

Ambitious about Autism have put together a few tips for families to help autistic people who are anxious about coronavirus,

This FAQ shares answers to questions sent into the Council for Disabled Children's email inbox, which are then collated and shared with the Department for Education (DfE) as well as colleagues with specific areas of expertise within CDC. Questions may be edited, privacy is protected, and questions are on similar themes or have similar answers may be grouped together. 

This document from the Council for Disabled Children brings together different advice from GOV.UK and the NHS, as well as links to information and advice from other charities and organisations. It focuses on supporting children and young people with autism and a learning disability. A full list of documents used in this advice can be found in the Appendix.

A visual guide that includes being prepared, what to do if you see a change in behaviour, what to do if the behaviour becomes challenging, and what to do after an episode of challenging behaviour.

This document from the Council for Disabled Children brings together different advice from GOV.UK and the NHS, as well as links to information and advice from other charities and organisations. It focuses on supporting children and young people with autism and a learning disability. A full list of documents used in this advice can be found in the Appendix.

During the lockdown, you may experience an escalation in behaviour of children or adults with severe learning disabilities that you find challenging. Many children and adults find changes to their routines very difficult being confined to home and this will impact on you and all members of your immediate family. The Challenging Behaviour Foundation make a number of suggestions to help ypou cope.

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