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Tip #1 Talk about It.  Allow individuals to ask questions about COVID-19 and what is happening in our state/country.  Provide simple, honest, straight forward answers. Don’t be afraid to say you don’t know when you don’t know then talk about how it feels not to know. Use social stories to help explain the virus and how it is impacting us.  Encourage people to talk about their feelings and to validate their feelings.  Reflect back on their feeling, thank them for sharing, and find out how you can help them feel safe.  End talks by instilling hope, for example, “We will all work together to get through this hard time.”  “We are doing our best to keep you safe.”  “You are the safest staying at home.”  Remember, all of us find comfort when others are just present or in the moment with us. Resource: Talk About It Feeling Chart

Tip #2 Provide Predictability in an Unpredictable Time.  As we know, most of the individuals depend heavily on structured routines and schedules.  While it may seem impossible to offer predictability during this unpredictable time, we need to try our best.  Help individuals create new daily or weekly routines using visual supports. When developing new routines, offer as much choice as possible.  Identifying stay at home activities might seem like a monumental task right now,  know that Matt Barr and the Community Navigation team are developing resources to help DSP’s provide active programming. Because of all the uncertainty right now and the disruption in their typical routine, it is important to use visual supports whenever possible to help communicate with individuals.  Remember, visual supports don’t have to be fancy…keep it simple like use objects, draw a picture, or write it down for individuals that read. Resource: My New Routine 

Tip #3 Keep People Moving.  The importance of keeping individuals moving for both their physical and mental health cannot be overemphasized.  Be creative about how to help the individuals have movement throughout their day with an emphasis on heavy activity.  For individuals with physical disabilities that may limit the types of activities, find sitting exercises on-line or investigate Youtube videos, have an in-house dance or video workout, or ask them to help you with a task that gets them moving even if it is only a little.  Being a helper will help them feel better too.  Resource: Movement-Successful Day

Tip #4 Help them Stay Connected.  Help individuals stay connected with people outside their home by phoning them, making cards or writing letters, and using social media or Facetime. Remember to help them make a connection not only with family but with the friends they saw every day at KE or their day program. Get them involved with KHI Project Pen Pals.  Identify ways to help others while practicing social distancing.  For example, making cards for people in the nursing home.      

Tip #5 Stay in the Here & Now.   Help individuals use techniques to keep them in the here and now rather than worrying about what is to come.  Try to limit exposure to news about the virus to one or two times a day. Use mindful techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. Resource: Here-Now Grounding Sensory Activities