At The Toby Henderson Trust, the children and young people and their families have always come first. Never would we have envisaged closing because of a global pandemic and something which is causing so much uncertainty and such an unsettled feeling. Imagine how that is for our kids and how they must be feeling.
Therefore, staff at TTHT have been thinking of some creative ways in which we can still support you all…but from a distance.
This page will include some useful resources and videos which we hope you will find helpful during this unprecedented time
Please keep your eyes peeled for more information and more support as and when we have it. We are working very hard to get everything together as quickly as possible
This might be a useful social story to use with your child
- Some useful self help techniques to reduce anxiety
- Some handy tips to help your young person and make them feel a bit better in these uncertain times
- Its equally important to look after our superstar siblings during this time
- This is an excellent ‘school closure toolkit’ visual resources for you to use with your child. It includes ideas for you to do at home which you can cut out and put on a visual timetable. It also has printable choice boards, reward/ token boards, first/then boards and activity schedule.
- This brilliant ‘back to school toolkit’ offers a range of free symbol materials to support the wider opening of schools.
- This video below discusses social distancing, helping children to understand what this involves whilst providing strategies that children can use themselves.
- “Bridge Back to School” is a brilliant free book which has been developed to help prepare families of children with autism for their return to school. This resource has a range of different sections which are aimed at the child but also offers support and guidance to parents, schools and support staff.
- Carol Gray has created a social story about coronavirus called “My Story About Pandemics and the Coronavirus”.
- This is another great social story that can be used with your child and it might help prepare them for returning and transitioning back to school.
- The Autism Research Institute have produced an excellent social story called “I can wear a mask” to help children and young people understand why people are wearing face masks but to support them in wearing a mask too.
- Pyramid Educational Consultants have written a social story about social distancing which helps to explain why we have to social distance to keep ourselves safe. They have also identified a range of activities that can be used to help teach children about social and physical distancing.
- Sunshine Support have shared a variety of social stories about COVID-19 on their website which can easily be downloaded by filling in your contact details. Some of these social stories include information about transitioning back to school and the changes that they might notice there.
- Autism Little Learners have a wide range of social stories and free resources that can be easily downloaded to help support your child.
- This is a great visual story which has been produced by Ambitious about Autism that explains Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), describing what it is and why it is used.
Activities at home
- You can download a free book called “100 things to do indoors” for ideas to keep yourself and your family occupied during these uncertain times.
- Sensory Spectacle have a range of different YouTube videos on their channel of activities that you can do at home to support children & adults with Sensory Processing Difficulties. These videos show you cheap and easy ways of how you can make so many of your sensory support items at home by using what is around you.
- Twinkl are currently offering FREE membership for parents and carers and they have recently produced a SEND School Closure Home Learning Resource Pack that can be used at home to help support your child during a school closure.
- Autistic & Unapologetic have shared 10 ideal indoor activities for autistic children, teenagers and adults that are both fun and easy to do.
- GoNoodle has produced a selection of “think about it” interactive mindfulness videos which are available for free on their YouTube channel. These videos might be useful to help children and young adults manage their anxiety.
This video raises awareness of what can cause challenging behaviour in people with learning disabilities and/or autism and what can be done to support people and families.
- The Challenging Behaviour Foundation has produced a range of videos that provide practical information about behaviour that challenges and are available to watch now on their website.
Some self-care tips for families from our family support worker
It’s a really difficult time, so we thought we’d put together some tips and support for you and your family during this time of uncertainty. Coronavirus is something that we can’t control, therefore if we can control how we are feeling and make healthy choices, it gives us our control back.
For our children:
- Try and maintain some sort of routine: This will allow everyone to be able to manage their expectations of what might happen day to day. If your child is out of school, put together a loose timetable of activities. It can include some school work, which the school will have set (e.g. some maths or English work) as well as physical activities (Joe Wicks – The Body Coach – is doing a live P.E lesson every day at 9am; there are also some kids dance/Zumba classes on Youtube/Facebook, and kids yoga, and of course you can play some sports inside or in the garden, or go for a family walk around your local area, if you are able to socially distance during this). Also include some creative tasks, such as colouring, baking, reading, crafts or fun quizzes. Also timetable in some free time, where children can do what they like and maybe some electronics time.
- Make a jobs list too, where each day, your child can choose a job around the house or garden to help you and make it fun! They could even help you prep lunch or dinner.
- Give children/adolescents age-appropriate information. If they have questions, you can answer them in a way that informs, but doesn’t instil fear. You could also use social stories and visual aids, such as the resources we sent out (if you need these again, please do get in touch).
- The way that we act can have an impact on our children; if you stay as informed and calm as possible, this will allow our children to feel calm during an uncertain time.
What about you?
- Don’t forget about yourself – make time for yourself whilst all of this is going on. Do activities that you enjoy whilst being indoors. If you are feeling anxious, try to meditate using apps like Headspace or Calm, listen to podcasts and audiobooks, take time to breathe (have a look at Box Breathing, which is great for anxiety, and can be used by adults and children) and you could also write down how you’re feeling each day using a journal, or even writing it down in your phone. It can feel quite therapeutic being able to write things down, close the book and get your worries onto paper instead of swirling around your brain.
- Remember, it is okay to feel anxious, sad, scared etc. Make sure you don’t push these feelings away, or they can often mount up and get worse. Accept that it’s okay to feel those emotions and work on feeling better if you can.
- Keep your body moving – exercise can have a huge positive impact on mental health. Whether it be yoga (have a look at Yoga by Adrienne on Youtube), a high intensity workout (Joe Wicks on Youtube, or through your smart speaker) or just simply going for a walk or pottering about in the garden. Do what suits you and what you enjoy.
- Try to stay away from all of the news stories on social media – it’s hard to stop once you’re scrolling, but it’s best to just keep informed via the daily government’s broadcast, so that you know the facts and aren’t fuelled by others’ anxiety.
- Use social media positively! Lots of celebrities and people are creating hashtags where there are lots of positive stories and things happening. There are also musicians and DJs doing live music on Instagram Stories, so you can have a sing and dance in your living room!
- If you feel particularly anxious, or your mental health is seriously being affected, you could still access counselling or psychotherapy – many therapists can work remotely from home (if they are well), via secure video chat or telephone. Have a look at the Counselling Directory, or speak to your GP if you are able to.
- Keep checking in and communicating with loved ones – use FaceTime or WhatsApp to video message, or apps such as Google Hangout or House Party. It’s so important to keep connected to others during this time, as you are not alone.
Sam, our family support worker, has put together all of her favourite tips for managing anxiety by using some grounding techniques which can be adapted and used by the whole family.
What is grounding?
Grounding isn’t ignoring or forgetting how you feel, or taking the emotion fully away, it’s all about being able to tolerate the emotion and notice how you’re feeling whilst being able to bring yourself into the here-and-now and out of an anxious or overwhelming state of mind.
These tips can be used by adults and children. Just modify them if needed and give them a go! You’ll find one that works best for you.
- 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This is where you engage your 5 main senses to help you feel more present. Wherever you are, find 5 things that you can see; 4 things you can feel/touch; 3 things you can hear; 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste (this last one’s a bit harder, so maybe have a cuppa as you’re doing it or do it when you’ve just brushed your teeth!) It’s even better if you can name them out loud, as it really allows the brain to take in the information more. You can simplify it in any way if you need to, especially for children.
- 5-4-3-2-1 with just visuals. This is a great one for both adults and children. With this one, name 5 colours you can see; 4 shapes you can see; 3 soft things you can see; 2 toys/books you can see and 1 person you can see.
- Pick a colour or a shape and wherever you are, find everything that matches the colour/shape you’ve picked. E.G. if I choose the colour green, I can see two plants, trees outside, books, a cushion with green on and a green notepad.
- Do an “ABC” around the room. Starting with A, try and name something in the room beginning with that same letter. This is a hard one, but really good as it makes your brain concentrate on the task even more, instead of concentrating on the overwhelming feelings you may be having!
- Wiggle your hands or feet. Place your hands/feet on a solid surface. Notice how your fingers/toes move – do they move all together or separately? Does it feel funny? If you’re wearing socks or shoes, how do they make your feet feel; are they comfy? If you’re in bare feet, is it cold/hot? What does the surface beneath your hands/feet feel like?
- A “Power Hug.” Place your fingers on your shoulders, as if you’re hugging yourself! Start with your fingertips on your shoulders and squeeze each finger individually on your shoulders. Then squeeze your hands on your shoulders. Then move your hands down and squeeze your entire arm, down to your wrist and back up again to your shoulders. This is a great sensory one too.
- Box breathing. Breathing is really great for calming, as you probably know! Box breathing is where you inhale for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds and hold for 4 seconds. You can repeat this as much as you like. Also hold on to your belly as you do this; feel the breath fill up your lungs and feel your tummy as it rises and falls.
- Tensing the body. This is a good one for those who find it hard to sit still! Tense up your body as much as you can (a safe amount). Squeeze your hands together; curl your toes; hunch your shoulders up to your ears, put your chin to your chest and squeeze, so it feels pressure but not hurting yourself. Hold this for 5-7 seconds and release. Do this a few times if you need to.
- Use a sensory toy (for either children or you)! Use things that you/your child likes, whether it be kinetic sand; crazy foam; slime; aqua beads; a soft teddy etc. If the child is able to, ask how the toy feels and ask them to describe it. If they are unable to use their words, simply allow them to experience it as they use their senses to explore.
- For adults/older teens, keep a journal. It’s really great to physically write things down on pen and paper. As you’re writing, envisage the ink flowing from the pen onto the paper in the same way that your thoughts are flowing from your brain, instead of the thoughts swirling around. Then when you’re finished, either writing, doodling or whatever makes you feel good, close the journal and put it to one side. Buy yourself a really nice notepad and a pen so it makes it something enjoyable rather than a chore, and it becomes a really enjoyable habit to upkeep.
- You could try apps like Headspace or Calm, which are meditation apps, but are easily accessible and easy to use. But these aren’t for everyone! Headspace offers a 10 day free trial, so you could try it even for a week and see what you think.
Take a look at our YouTube video for more tips on how to manage anxiety with Sam, our family support worker: