Supporting kids with additional needs during coronavirus pandemic
Children with additional needs may be particularly vulnerable at this time. The health and wellbeing of all children and their families is of paramount importance.
Current advice from the federal government and SA Health indicates that COVID-19 has the greatest impact on the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions. We have many children in our services, who meet this medical criteria.
As you are aware, hygiene, social distancing and personal care can mitigate the risk of contracting COVID-19. However, there is a portion of children for whom personal care and other supports, are performed by others, and their ability to self-manage or self-regulate is still developing.
Children with functional communication difficulties, as well as those with sensory processing difficulties, may be compromised due to an inability to inform others of symptoms or practice social distancing skills. These children and young children may find following advice provided by educators challenging.
All South Australian service providers, including those with children with additional needs, will continue to operate, noting advice and direction from SA Health if COVID-19 is confirmed within the site.
Parents and carers of children who are vulnerable may choose to self-isolate their child at any time.
Where a child accesses Inclusion Support Programme (ISP), consultation with health care professionals, regarding clinical vulnerability of the individual child, may inform whether self-isolation is recommended.
Where children are required to self-isolate for an extended period of time, the approved provider may consider exploring strategies that enable continued education and continuation of relationships. This may involve implementing ICT support.
Where self-isolation or service provider closure occur, families may find these times particularly challenging, with some families being unable to cope with the changes involved. Some may voluntarily place their child in care, admit them to hospital or emergency, or call the police.
As a proactive strategy, where a child has access to ISP, the service is encouraged to talk with the child’s family and/or the Inclusion Agency (Gowrie SA) to identify additional supports that may be required now or in the future.