Many parents are struggling with aggressive or even self-harming behavior in their ASD and PANS/PANDAS children during isolation and social distancing due to COVID-19. The loss of respite care and even time at school and with therapists can be incredibly difficult. It’s hard for parents because they don’t get a break. It’s hard for kids because a change in their schedule can cause a lot of anxiety.
At Lighthouse Complex Care we aren’t just providers, we are parents of kids like yours. We understand how hard this is right now and want to share five recommendations to help you and your child get through this huge upheaval in your routines.
Don’t try to stop stimming. Many kids have stim behaviors such as playing with string, jumping, spinning themselves or specific objects. What you may not know is that stimming is a method we all use to some extent to help us self-regulate. For more on this check out the Stimming podcast that Healing Hope Tribe recently released. Allowing your child to use their favorite stim behaviors to self-regulate can help them cope a bit better with what they are feeling, both mentally and physically. This is also not the time for you to be trying to work on eliminating non-harming behaviors if it stresses either of you at all.
Make a safe room. During this time you may find it necessary to move everything out of a room in your home except for a mattress to create a safe place for your child. If you or other family members are in danger or need to be able to keep your child safe while you take a short mental and physical break this may be your only option. It’s important not to use this as a punishment, but as a way to keep you, your child, and other family members safe if your child is struggling. Aggression and self-harming are often signs of chronic pain and other medically rooted issues that a child is unable to communicate about or manage.
Have plenty of their favorites on hand. If it’s possible, try to order and have delivered your child’s favorite foods, stim objects, and preferred items. Use them to encourage and reward positive behaviors, to help alleviate boredom, and even just to help yourself get through the next few minutes of the day. Allow access to your child’s preferred activities as much as possible. We often recommend that screen time rules are loosened during this unique and extremely stressful period in all of our lives. Do what you need to do to help you and your child get through each day safely.
Consider Hydroxyzine. This is a prescription anti-histamine which is also used for treating anxiety and to help patients feel drowsy before surgery. It is non-addicting and we are comfortable prescribing it to our pediatric patients. If your child is extremely aggressive this can often help to calm them enough to manage crisis behavior in the short term.
Ask for help. Whether it’s reaching out to a current provider to discuss a Hydroxyzine prescription or finding a provider who will work with you, having a knowledgable and compassionate provider on your team right now is critical. At Lighthouse Complex Care we have extensive experience with kids in crisis, especially kids with autism, PANS/PANDAS, and other complex disorders. We accept most major insurance carriers and are now able to see you and your child via telemedicine so you can get the help you need now, without leaving home.
Your first step if you need help is to click here and fill out your intake forms. The information you provide helps us to understand your child’s needs and medical history. Once your intake documents are complete, we will call to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.
You don’t have to do this alone. We are here, ready to help and support you and your child.
Your Lighthouse Team