Coronavirus: Advice and resources

During the coronavirus shutdown, we are sharing links on our Facebook and Twitter pages to all kinds of information and advice services that are still available – including help from our own family support and benefits experts.

We are also bringing them together on this page, where you can find a series of sections grouping links by subject. If you see something that you think other autistic people and their families may find useful, please email details and links to us at communications@autismberkshire.org.uk

Click here to visit our page full of things that children and families can do at home and places they can visit online.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 – what you need to know and what to do

The symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • A high temperature of above 37.8C and, or
  • A new continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home and go to the NHS 111 website for details of what to do next

Official advice about the virus pandemic from the Government – click here

Official FAQ on what you can and cannot do during the coronavirus outbreak. Point 15 is particularly important for autistic people and their families who many need to go out for exercise more than once each day – click here

The Government’s Action Plan for Adult Social Care during the coronavirus outbreak includes a commitment to publish specific guidance for social care service providers and for family carers of autistic adults. Detailed resources and information for care providers, family carers and professionals who work with autistic adults are being prepared. The plan adds that councils and the NHS need to ensure continued support for young people who will be transitioning from children’s to adult services during the outbreak. See section 3 of the plan – click here

Official guidance about social distancing (including easy-read guides and guidance in South Asian languages, Arabic, Chinese, French, Polish and Portuguese) – click here

Beating the Virus is a short, free wordless story, to help people to understand what to do if they have coronavirus and how to keep yourself and those you care about safe – click here to download it

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust has produced a coronavirus symptom checker for people with learning disabilities, which can be used by relatives and carers – click here

Resources for parents and carers

The National Autistic Society has compiled a range of information to help autistic people and their families during the coronavirus outbreak – click here

The National Autistic Society has also created a guide for unpaid carers about supporting autistic people during the coronavirus lockdown – click here

If your child is aged up to 5, Berkshire charity Dingley’s Promise provides tailored support for families of early years children with additional needs, including autism – click here

If you need some tips about helping children who have sleep difficulties, Berkshire charity Parenting Special Children’s specialist advisers have complied a list of tips you can use – click here

Another source of support for families where children aged 16 or under are struggling with sleep is the Cerebra Sleep Service – click here

The PDA Society has complied a list of links and tips for families of children with the PDA profile of autism but others may also find them useful – click here

Ambitious about Autism has a range of daily and weekly planners available to help you organise your time – click here to download them and for other advice

Ambitious about Autism has also published an e-book – called The World Has Turned Upside Down to explain the lockdown to children. To download the book – click here

The Council for Disabled Children has complied a list of resources for parents, carers and professionals – click here

The Government has committed £10m to provide small grants via the Family Fund to help low-income families of children with special educational needs and disabilities with educating children at home during the coronavirus outbreak – click here

BBC Bitesize has created a lockdown toolkit for parents and carers of children with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities), with resources, activities and support, including mental health and wellbeing tips and links to personal stories of how people are coping – click here

Disability charity Scope has a dedicated page with a range of useful resources for the coronavirus lockdown on its website – click here

If you need some ideas about managing how long your children are online when they are at home all the time, the UK Safer Internet Centre has some top tips for parents and carers – click here

The UK Safer Internet Centre is also creating interactive video lessons and other resrouces for families and children about staying safe and happy when online – click here

The TES website has some tips on talking to children about the coronavirus available – click here

Irish autism educator Amanda McGuinness has created a social story about coronavirus – click here

Easy Read Online has a guide to coronavirus available – click here

Citizens Advice has compiled a range of advice and resources about various topics to help during the coronavirus outbreak – click here

Special Needs Jungle has published a short ebook by Specialist SEN lawyer Hayley Mason about changes in the law relating to children and young people with additional needs during the coronavirus outbreak, including Educationm Health and Care Plans (EHCP), and a series of blog posts focusing on specific topics – click here and click here

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has drawn up a set of guides for families and professionals about supporting autistic adults and adults with learning disabilities during the coronavirus outbreak, which it will keep updated during the lockdown – click here

The Berkshire West NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has produced information and a video for parents and carers about safeguarding vulnerable children and adults during the lockdown.
For more information – click here
To watch the Be Brave, Speak Up video – click here

Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading is not able to treat people with minor injuries for the time being – click here for some tips on avoiding injury during the shutdown. If you or a family member does need treatment for a minor injury, go to the following NHS centres:

  • West Berkshire Community Hospital, in London Road, Benham Hill, between Thatcham and Newbury – opening hours 8am to 8pm
  • Townlands Community Hospital, in York Road, Henley – opening hours 10am to 6.30pm.

The minor injuries units at Bracknell Healthspace and St Marks in Maidenhead are closed temporarily, with anyone needing treatment advised to go to Townlands Community Hospital or to the minor injuries unit at Wexham Park Hospital’s accident and emergency department or to Townlands Community Hospital.

If a member of your family receives prescriptions for medication from Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s CAMHS (Child, Adolescent and Mental Heath Service), the trust has issued special guidance about how the prescription system will operate during the coronavirus shutdown – click here

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s immunisation programme for school age children is suspended while schools remain closed. If a child has missed a planned immunisation session at their school, or an appointment for a home-schooled child, these will be rescheduled as soon as possible when schools reopen.
Immunisations for babies are still being given – contact your GP surgery to discuss these – click here for more information about immunisations.

Advice for autistic people (and others) about making the most of a video consultation with a doctor from psychiatrist and autism specialist Prof Jonathan Green – click here

The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is working with the National Careers Service to develop the Berkshire Redundancy and Redeployment Service to match people recently made redundant due to the coronavirus outbreak with new work in sectors experiencing a surge in employment. The service is free or charge and is available by calling 0800 100 900 or emailing NationalCareersService@adviza.org.uk

The charity Beyond Words specialises in creating resources to help people with Communication Support Needs and has created four free books about the coronavirus pandemic – click here

Anxiety and mental health resources

Official guidance from the Government about mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak – click here

The NHS Every Mind Matters website has added extra information about mental health during the coronavirus outbreak – click here

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s CAMHS, Neurodiversity and Eating Disorders services information for the coronavirus outbreak – click here

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s full list of changes to community services during the coronavirus outbreak – click here

Berkshire West Safeguarding Children Partnership has put together a new guide to help families and individuals, called Coping: Family Life during the Lockdown, which is now available online. Two more guides will follow soon: Coping – Five ways to Wellbeing; and Coping – Young People’s guide.
To download the family life guide and for other useful information – click here

East Berkshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group is also developing a set of Coping guides for people living in its area – click here

Anxiety specialists at the University of Reading and the University of Oxford have gathered a range of advice and links to help parents whose children may be worried about the coronavirus – click here

Slough Borough Councils’ public health team has set up a special Heath at Home page with advice about wellbeing and mental health – click here

The Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health has recorded a podcast for parents and carers about how to help autistic children during the coronavirus outbreak – click here

If you are worried or anxious about the pandemic, mental health charity Mind has put together a page of advice and ideas to help with your wellbeing – click here

Autism research charity Autistica has some tips about mental health and coping with uncertainty during the shutdown – click here and click here

Ambitious about Autism has a list of tips for families – click here

Carers UK has some tailored advice for carers on protecting themselves and those they care for during the shutdown – click here

The Thatcham-based mental health charity, the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, has advice and information available about mental health, working from home and talking to children about the coronavirus – click here

Mental health expert Dr Pooky Knightsmith has made a video looking at how you can work from home and have your children learning at home without everything falling to pieces – click here to watch

Mental health charity Young Minds has a list of tailored tips for children and young people – click here

Young Minds also runs a Helpline service for parents and carers concerned about the mental health or emotional wellbeing of a child or young person aged under 25.
It is available from Monday to Friday between 9.30am and 4pm on 0808 802 5544 and by email using an online contact form, plus a text service that children and young people can use to get advice. For more details – click here

Young people living in the East Berkshire NHS CCG district – the Bracknell Forest, Slough and Windsor & Maidenhead council areas – can talk to advisers from the free Kooth.com online counselling and emotional well-being platform – click here
The service supports all 11 to 19-year-olds and 11 to 25-year-olds with additional needs.

Young people aged 11 to 18 living in the West Berkshire Council area can talk to advisers from the area’s Emotional Health Academy early intervention team about their concerns over the coronavirus outbreak in a new helpline from Monday, April 6. Call 01635 503587 between 9am and 5pm, from Monday to Friday.

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s school nursing texting service is still available to give health and wellbeing advice to young people who live in the Reading, Bracknell Forest, Wokingham and West Berkshire council areas. The service is confidential and non-judgemental. Young people can text the team for advice at 07990 771641.

The Sibs charity for siblings has advice for siblings of children with autism and additional needs available on its YoungSibs website – click here

Sibs also has information and advice for adult siblings of disabled people during the coronavirus outbreak, covering topics including face-to-face and online contact, keeping in touch and changes to care packages – click here

Sophie Webster, a massage & sensory therapist who works for Brighter Futures for Children in Reading, has created a guide to some sensory circuits – short daily sensory motor skills sessions that help to set children up for the day – that families can try at home, plus lists of more organising, alerting and calming activities – click here

Young people living in Reading can discuss mental health worries and get advice from a trained counsellor by using a new telephone support line set up by No 5 Young People. The service can be accessed by texting the word TALK followed by your first name and postcode to 07786 202430 to request a call. A counsellor will call back to offer support – click here for more details.

Education resources

Here are a few links you may find helpful. We have also compiled a page of things that children and families can do at home and places they can visit online, many of which can also be educational – click here for these.

Free online education resources links list from the Department for Education – click here

The BBC Bitesize website has lots of resources and advice for homeschooling, including daily online lessons and revision – click here

A simple social story that you can use to help children understand why their school is closed at the moment – click here

A free digital book about coronavirus for children, with images by Axel Schiffer, the illustrator of the Gruffalo books – click here

TV presenter and mathematician Carol Vorderman is making her Maths Factor online maths courses for children aged 4 to 12 available free of charge for the time being – click here

Chemistry experts at the University of Birmingham have come up with a series of simple hands-on experiments that children from early years upwards can try out at home – click here

Alex Kelly, a speech therapy and social communication specialist from Hampshire, is making a series of short videos, featuring Makaton signing, social stories and feelings boards, about the coronavirus and activities to use at home. Free resources and the videos are available at her website – click here

If you are new to home schooling, tutor Lucy Spencer has shared some tips for parents and carers with Round & About magazine – click here

Online education resources site Twinkl is making lots of home learning resources available free of charge online during the schools shutdown period – click here

Widget Online is offering free access to its system, where you can create, print and share visual, communication and learning support materials in a web browser using over 18,000 symbols and easy-to-use templates – click here and enter the promotional code WIDGIT30

The Mathematics Mastery and English Mastery websites are offering a range of free resources for both subjects that are suitable for home schooling for children at Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 – click here

Still struggling with having to become the teacher, due to schools being closed during the coronavirus shutdown? Colin Diamond, the Professor of Education Leadership at the University of Birmingham, takes a look at the challenges for parents and carers who have to had to become teachers during the shutdown and shares his top tips – click here

The Building Societies Association has created a range of financial education activities and exercises for children, parents and carers to use while schools are closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. There are resources tailored for key stages 1 to 4 – click here

The Prince’s Trust has developed online resources for parents, educators and young people about digital skills, including workbooks about doing research on the internet and online safety, plus a toolkit encouraging young people aged 11 to 18 to use creative writing to improve their mental and emotional wellbeing – click here

Thames Valley education and wellbeing charity The Inside Out is producing weekly Wellbeing Guides with simple ideas for parents and teacher to use with children during the coronavirus lockdown – click here

Stay safe from scams

Thames Valley Police has received a number of reports about criminals trying to take advantage of the coronavirus outbreak and targeting vulnerable people. For information about how to protect yourself and loved ones – click here