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How to Talk About COVID 19 to Our Peeps with an Intellectual Disability

This is something over the past two weeks I've been grappling with. It's been hard to know how much to talk about the virus and what to say, knowing that I could upset my dancers & yogis even more than they already are. I know that many of them do not understand why classes are so small, why their friends are gone, and why their often upbeat instructor is barely lackluster. And that doesn't even include now classes being on-line from a living room! I feel for my students in times like these. I know others may be struggling with how much is too much to discuss with our peeps and what is the best way to address this unusual experience for our children, friends and loved ones.

An article by Ben Drew of Open Future Learning gave me some great ideas and insight I thought I'd share to help us navigate at this time.

Ben writes," Coronavirus is changing people’s lives dramatically. People can no longer take part in activities outside the house, meet with friends, go to work or clubs or anything else that involves groups of people. People can no longer visit elderly relatives, and people’s families can no longer visit. Suddenly, the holiday you had been looking forward to is cancelled.

We often think about “bad news” in relation to serious illness and death, but really, it could be anything that makes your future look less bright than you had thought.

How bad news is experienced, is affected by someone’s concept of future, their ability for abstract thinking, and the things that they had looked forward to. People who have difficulty coping with change may experience any kind of changes to their routine (even seemingly minor ones) as “bad news”.

This makes the coronavirus very bad news indeed.

How do we then as caregivers and parents discuss these "Bad News" things?

Here are some steps to help:

1. Talk about the coronavirus, let them know that this is like the flu and it's making people sick. Tell them that it's best for all our friends and loved ones that we stay apart for awhile. Don't leave them guessing or give to much detail.

2. Share your emotions about it so that they can feel it's alright to share their feelings. Validate their fears and concerns. "I know you miss your friends, and that this is a hard time right now not doing all your activities, I'm sorry." Perhaps they would like to express their feeling through art or through movement. Allow them the time to process this challenging time in their way.

3. Find ways to cope with the changes in their lives right now. Write down their routine and substitute things for the items they can't do right now. Use all our amazing technology to your advantage right now. Skype or facetime friends and loved ones. Go to friends' Instagram pages and Facebook feeds to stay connected. Many local organizations and people are streaming on-line. Youtube has thousands of activities to do. Most importantly, incorporate a breathing practice into the routine to keep stress levels low and anxiety at bay.

4. As a caregiver it will be important for you to have self-care when you can. You won't be a good source of comfort and peace if you are stressed out too. Practice breathing 1234 in 1234 out throughout your day, take a bath, learn how to meditate. Call me, I'll talk you through it, download the Headspace app. Take care, so you can take care.

Here is a wonderul documentary to guide your heart in the process.

You Matter & You Are Special

Take care,


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