Dealing with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dealing with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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We hear about heroes on the frontline every day in news about the COVID-19 pandemic. For most, that means doctors and nurses treating patients. Yet for some, home can feel like a frontline. Parents of children with special needs face a life interrupted in ways other families may not.

Top public health officials and special needs experts have shared tips and support for keeping children with special needs, and their families, safe and supported during this time.

Balancing Social Distance and Support

Social distance may help you avoid getting or passing the virus. But social distance is not always possible when a child needs in-person care or help with daily tasks. When contact with anyone outside your home is needed, remember to:

  • Wear face coverings
  • Wash hands before and after contact
  • Keep surfaces and devices clean
  • Talk with doctors, therapists and aides about ways they can help to cut risk
Getting Services and Supplies

If local, state and national offices close many businesses to fight pandemic spread, places and services that parents count on to support their children with special needs may close from time to time. To work around these limits:

  • Talk with health care providers to find out if they will offer some services by phone or video during the pandemic.
  • When remote care isn't an option, talk with them about changing scheduled visits. Ask to focus on the most important care first. Try to stay away from crowds.

Supplies may be harder to find and higher priced, and it may take longer than usual to get. This may be true for things you need linked to the virus and medical supplies you need all the time.

When you’re having trouble getting what you need:

  • Ask your child’s doctor and community groups if they know of any other sources for supplies.
  • Ask sellers about reduced pricing and payment choices.
  • Ask your local community (school networks, social media groups) if anyone has extra supplies that are safe to share that you may buy or borrow.
  • Work with your doctor and pharmacist to find ways to make sure you can keep enough medicine on hand. You may be able to get early refills or 90-day prescriptions.
  • Talk to your insurer. Many times, a care coordinator with the insurer can get you the supplies you need.
Fighting Fears

It is normal to be more worried than usual. You want to protect your children. Children may be afraid because of how much or little they know. Fears about catching or passing the virus come up. Fears about whether people with special needs will get the same access to health care also come up. 

It may help to:

  • Make a special routine that works for now, if your normal routines can’t happen
  • Limit news and social media use
  • Limit sources of information to those you can trust
  • Talk openly and check in often about feelings and fears
Sources: Advice for caregivers of children with disabilities in the era of COVID-19,   American Psychological Association, 2020; Disabilities considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak,   World Health Organization, 2020.
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