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Dr. Melanie Penner
Tips for families living with autism during COVID-19 crisis: Holland Bloorview expert

TORONTO, April 6, 2020 – For families and caregivers, the COVID-19 pandemic has made life very challenging these days. Parents have to juggle the added responsibility of working from home with the demands of childcare and educating their children all at the same time. For families who have children with autism, this is especially hard, because it means sudden changes to their routines which can be difficult.

Dr. Melanie Penner, a developmental pediatrician and expert on autism at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s Bloorview Research Institute, offers these tips to help families provide support to their children who are on the spectrum during these difficult times:

Co-create a new schedule: Parents and their children should work together to develop a daily routine. Try to think about what are the important activities to do together as a family. This helps to give that structure that children on the spectrum need.

Get outside but in a safe way: It’s important for children to go outside to get some fresh air while practicing social distancing. This can be playing in the backyard or going for a walk safely around the neighbourhood.

Create a quiet spot for your child: It’s important for children to have a quiet space to relax or have some time to themselves. This can be a pillow fort or a comfy corner where they can do their own activity while parents can have some quiet time to themselves.

Be kind: This is a stressful time for children and parents so it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing as well as your kids.

Media Contacts

Ashley Cruz
Senior Media Relations Specialist
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Work: 416-425-6220 x 6409

Suelan Toye
Senior Research Communications Specialist
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital | Bloorview Research Institute
Work: 416-425-6220 x 6263