Special needs child in wheelchair outside with parent

Within the last couple of months, COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus of 2019) has become a pandemic. The United States government has addressed the concern of this disease nation-wide and asks that the population take necessary precautions to live out our day-to-day lives.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and WHO (World Health Organization) have been thoroughly researching this virus and are trying to “flatten the curve” to ensure that those with the coronavirus receive the medical attention they deserve. They are also profusely providing the population with new updates and preventative actions to take to stay healthy and safe.

Currently, everyone is being affected by COVID-19 in some way or another. It is causing health risks, deaths, social disturbance, isolation, and behaviors within our societies that are more uncommon. Parents are finding it difficult to raise their children and take care of them during this time of uncertainty.

For parents of children with disabilities, they may be finding it more challenging to take care of their children than before. At Evergreen Home Healthcare, we understand that this is a delicate time and one to keep a keen eye on the health of ourselves and our loved ones.

During this unprecedented time, we want to share resources and provide actions you can take to keep your special needs child safe, healthy, and to better navigate this crisis.

NOTE: These are recommendations from Evergreen Home Healthcare and not all are direct initiatives set forth by the CDC or WHO. For more information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s resource center.

Remain Calm

Times are certainly confusing. While not much information has been released about the coronavirus and how to circumnavigate it, the first thing to do as a parent is to remain calm.

Your energy is picked up by your children and those around you. Taking a step back to take in a deep breath (metaphorically) can provide you with clarity during the uncertainty. Children react strongly to emotions; setting the positive will help you and your child.

While we are concerned about COVID-19, how we deal with our actions and our emotions will set the standard for how we maneuver through it.

Do the Five

While there are more than five actions you can take as a preventative caution to COVID-19, these are the five most important actions you can take.

  1. Wash your hands often throughout the day and wash them for a minimum of 20 seconds. This removes bacteria that could otherwise be related to COVID-19 and keeps your immune system healthy.
  2. Keep a safe distance between you and others. Social distancing has become a necessary precaution to COVID-19. By keeping away from others you are limiting the chances of the coronavirus from spreading.
  3. If you need to cough, cover your mouth with something other than your hand, such as your elbow.
  4. Don’t touch your face as this leads to spreading germs that can enter your body. It is suggested to wear gloves and a face mask when you go outside your home.
  5. If possible, stay at home. Staying at home is one of the best ways to ensure the prevention of COVID-19. Symptoms may not show up for some time and you could be spreading the virus without your knowledge.

Research Online for New Information Daily

It is very important to know all about COVID-19 and its symptoms to keep your child safe. New information gets brought to light daily around the globe. Perform regular searches online on trusted medical resources. The CDC and WHO are the most accurate resources with the latest COVID-19 information.

Reports from other publications and resources may be inaccurate, outdated, or disinformation. Keep yourself in the know to best protect your child.

Keep Educating Your Child

Unfortunately, the majority of schools across the US have been closed due to COVID-19. This means that in-person educating is prohibited. Luckily, there are still ways that schools are creating educational atmospheres for children, including those with disabilities.
The closure for some schools is up to the discretion of the school by following this School Decision Tree from the CDC.

CDC COVID-19 school decision tree diagram

Department of Education – “If a child with a disability is absent for an extended period of time because of a COVID-19 infection and the school remains open, then the IEP Team must determine whether the child is available for instruction and could benefit from homebound services such as online or virtual instruction, instructional telephone calls, and other curriculum-based instructional activities, to the extent available. In so doing, school personnel should follow appropriate health guidelines to assess and address the risk of transmission in the provision of such services. The Department understands there may be exceptional circumstances that could affect how a particular service is provided.

Schools are trying to perform live video conferencing for classrooms, create pre-recorded videos, and interact with children with disabilities through phone calls. While this can prove challenging to some parents, the continuance of education for their special needs child is well worth the time. Pausing your child’s education could result in a digression pertaining to their condition.

Stick to a Regular Schedule

We know this is much easier said than done, but keeping to a regular schedule is imperative for your special needs child. Most children with special needs require familiarity. For those with comorbidity, staying at home could be a typical practice.

If your child is used to getting out of the house every day or only sometimes during the week, your schedule may need a reassessment. It is not recommended to leave your house at this time, only for essential trips. If you absolutely must take your child out of the house, take them to low-public places. Keep them close so they refrain from touching things.

No matter how challenging it may be, keeping them safe is the highest priority.

Buying Food and Home Products

Many special needs children have essential eating habits along with particular restrictions. Some children may enjoy a particular brand of chicken, or like the texture of a vegetable. In many households, purchasing groceries has become a problem.

Since the impact of COVID-19, grocery stores have become scarce with foods and other home essentials like toilet paper and hand soaps throughout Colorado and other states. This makes finding your regular foods for your child challenging.

If your child requires certain foods that are difficult to obtain due to scarcity, think about ordering the food online for pickup. Buy your products through Amazon’s Whole Foods store for delivery. You can also keep in contact with fellow parents by asking them to purchase your child’s specific foods or essentials when they are in the store and you can pay them back later. You can even try calling your local grocery store to see if they can put specific items on hold for your child.

In-Home Healthcare

Parts of Colorado (such as Denver) are under a stay-at-home order. While many businesses have been forced to shut down or refrain from public gatherings, some businesses have been labeled as “essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health care companies and facilities are labeled as essential. Hospitals, clinics, and in-home healthcare services are to stay open. Evergreen Home Healthcare is one of these businesses that has been kept open and available to deliver in-home healthcare to patients.

If you’re needing assistance with your child’s medical needs and find it dangerous to go outdoors, in-home healthcare services are able to come to you. CNAs are qualified to handle your child’s special needs and medical care. You may also take a parental CNA program to handle your own child’s medical needs.

At Evergreen Home Healthcare, we are abiding by the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines to ensure we keep our team members and your child safe.

Use Video Conferencing

Web applications that allow for video conferencing like Facetime, Zoom, and Skype are allowing families and friends to connect during this crisis. Even Facebook Messenger has its own face-to-face live streaming.

If your child is used to seeing family members or friends, try to connect them via these online platforms. They can be very useful for keeping your child interactive. While it’s not like an in-person interaction and your child may not be accustomed to it, seeing a familiar face or hearing a familiar voice could help them cope with this uncomfortable change.

Your child may need more attention than ever before, and other parts of your life might be drastically affected by COVID-19. If you are in Colorado needing assistance with the care of your child, we are here to help. Our top priority is your child’s health and safety. Our CNAs are well-qualified to assist your child with their daily routine and to get creative with you to try and normalize your new daily situation.

Contact us at either of our Colorado locations to get your child the help and medical attention they need. Be safe and stay strong!