It can be difficult for any child (or adult, honestly) to grasp all the changes we’ve had to make in our lives this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. But children with autism often need a little extra help in understanding why life looks so different right now, especially as we approach the start of another uncertain school year. That’s why one speech/language pathologist has created a collection of free books for parents to download and share with their kids.
Tara Tuchel, who specialises in working with children with autism, created the website Autism Little Learners to provide resources for parents. And throughout the pandemic, she has been creating a variety of books specifically geared toward helping young children and children with autism understand things like wearing masks and social distancing. The collection started, she tells Scary Mummy, with a request from a friend:
“As the Coronavirus pandemic started, I had a friend who asked if I could write a social story for her daughter, who was having a hard time suddenly having to stay home,” Tuchel tells Scary Mummy. “She missed going to her favourite stores and restaurants. So, I wrote her a story about coronavirus and staying home.”
Tuchel said it helped her friend’s daughter a lot so she put that story out for free on her social media platforms. She said the demand for more spurred her to create several more stories about what was happening in the world. “I wrote stories about COVID and staying 1.83 m apart. Then, about distance learning and how-to video chat,” she said. “Then, it moved to seeing people wearing masks followed by wearing a mask. Then, a story about not going back to school.”
Each story is short and easily digestible with bright, colourful graphics and simple, straightforward language. Here are some to start with:
- What is social distancing?
- Seeing people wearing masks
- Putting a mask on my toys
- Masks, face shields and gloves, oh my!
- Why does my therapist look different?
- Why does my doctor look different?
- Going back to school
- Riding the bus during COVID-19
- Greeting my teachers and friends
- Wearing a mask at school
- Getting a haircut during COVID-19
Tuchel also has an entire section of her website dedicated to COVID-19 resources, including these and other short stories, colouring books and distancing learning tips, to make it easier for parents to find what they need.