HOUSTON — It's a difficult time for parents having to teach their children at home, but it’s especially challenging for parents with children on the autism spectrum.
Those children are now missing so much of the specialized education and interactions that their schools provide that help them grow.
I bet you didn’t know it takes 14 steps to brush your teeth, but 16-year-old Matthew has got it down. It’s part of his routine.
“Kids on the autism spectrum, they thrive on routine," Matthew's mother, Adriana Beasley, said.
Beasley said Matthew's routine is the one constant in his constantly changing environment.
“And they look forward to that. It’s a control thing. They have control. They have the expectations," Beasley said.
Life for 18-year-old Alex looks a little different.
“It’s a matter of you trying to find what fits better," Alex's mother, Andreza Carleo, said.
Alex is on the autism spectrum and is also blind. His mom says adjusting to the new norm hasn’t been easy.
“It’s really hard to make Alex understand," Carleo said.
She said the most difficult part is waking up because Alex doesn’t know why he’s not going to school.
“I am letting him sleep in, so maybe he can understand there’s no school today," Carleo said.
That’s why it’s a spectrum. It’s different for every child.
As co-founders of the group Autism Moms of Houston, two women, who are mothers themselves, offer a resource for all parents by posting ideas and activities to do at home, even if it’s chores.
“Give your kids those little tasks, teach them something new," Executive Director of Social Motion Skills Wendy Dawson said.
Dawson says it’s all about keeping children engaged. She recommends making a visual schedule, one they can see.
“Block out 15 minutes, or 30 minutes of school times with breaks, and we’ve found that’s been a really helpful way to help parents and kiddos stay on track in this new normal," Dawson said.
Add activities with problem-solving, critical thinking, physical exercise and creativity. She says to try to see this setback as an opportunity to grow.
“This is a fabulous month where they can actually learn a lot of skills if someone will just coach them through it," Dawson said.