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If you are like me you’ve probably had a conversation (or seven) about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). One of the common questions as a public speaker & autism self-advocate I’ve received in the past few days is how to talk about the coronavirus with my son/daughter who is on the autism spectrum. First and foremost, it’s important to have the conversation sooner rather than later as information (some which is inaccurate) about the Coronavirus continues to be published.

Here’s my advice…

Educate with the facts to avoid uncertainty

For people like me who are on the autism spectrum one of the best things you can do is take out as much uncertainty as possible. Educate on what it is and the importance of being proactive by doing things such as washing your hands for 20 seconds and avoiding touching your face.

Social stories and/or visual schedules

Take it farther by looking at social stories like this one. Some people with autism tend to have an easier time looking at something visually then auditory processing.

Remain positive & calm in your approach

Remind the person that, while this is a serious topic, this situation will pass over time. An approach that continues to make an impact in my life is the ‘think with the end in mind’ philosophy. Practicing reflection techniques can be a helpful activity.

Make the message appropriate to that individual

Autism is a spectrum. If you’ve met one individual with autism, you’ve met one individual with autism so establish what you believe would work best for that individual.

Here are some additional links & resources you may find helpful in this conversation

Autism Speaks: COVID-19 Information and Resources

NPR: How To Talk About COVID-19 With People Who Have Autism

Psychology Today: Coronavirus (COVID-19): What to Talk About with Your Child

Autism Society of America Toolkit & Corona Virus Facebook Live Series

Update: Some of you have asked how I’m doing with all this and how my family talked to me about this topic. You can read about how the Coronavirus has impacted me here. My routine has been flipped (like many of us) as most of my speaking engagements have been cancelled/postponed till a later date. Trying to make the most of it while educating our community about the importance of technology right now to keep our events going (Webinars, virtual presentations via Zoom, etc.)

Have me give a virtual presentation to your students by contacting me here.

Have me give a professional development virtual presentation for your teachers by contacting me here.

Join us during World Autism Month by RSVPing here for our ‘A Night For Celebrating Our Autism Community Virtual Event’ on April 20th where we will be spotlight several members of our autism community like our scholarship applicants!

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My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum that started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.