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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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)
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
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 are allowed to do, and cannot do, during the coronavirus outbreak – click here
Official advice about wearing face masks/coverings when you go into shops or are using public transport. Children under 11 are exempt, and there are also exemptions for those who may find it hard to wear a mask due to a disability or for health reasons – click here
University of Reading graphic communication graduate Eden Sinclair has designed a Face Covering Exemption Card for us that you can print and show when you are shopping or using a bus or train, if anyone asks why you do not have a mask – Click here to download the card.
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 – 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, and has information about mental health and wellbeing – click here
Advice and Resources
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
Wearing a face mask when using public transport was made a compulsory requirement in late June 2020, but there are a number of exemptions that may be helpful for some autistic people who find it hard to use a mask. The National Autistic Society has made a free information sheet that people can download and use to help explain why they are not wearing a mask – 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 compiled 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 Education 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, the Slough Walk-in Centre and St Marks in Maidenhead are closed temporarily, with anyone needing treatment advised to go to the minor injuries unit at Wexham Park Hospital’s accident and emergency department in Slough 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
If you are sent coronavirus home testing kits, Ambitious about Autism has created a visual story to explain the test procedure to autistic children and young people, along with a guide for parents and carers – 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
Tips from occupational therapist and autism researcher Claire Gleeson for autistic adults who are worried about making the transition back into a busy world as the coronavirus lockdown rules are relaxed – click here
The Maudsley Charity and mental health specialists from King’s College London and the South London & Maudsley NHS Trust have created a series of short video clips offering tips to help families deal with difficult behaviour and negative emotions – 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 guides to help families and individuals, called Coping: Family Life during the Lockdown; Coping – Five ways to Wellbeing; and Coping – Young People’s guide.
To download the guides and for other useful information – click here
East Berkshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group has also developed 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
Clinical psychologists at the University of Reading have developed a free online course – COVID-19: Helping Young People Manage Low Mood and Depression – to help young people with low mood and depression and their parents and carers, or anyone who has contact with young people during the coronavirus pandemic – click here
Slough Borough Council’s 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
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 Berkshire 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.
10 Minute CBT has a free e-learning course available looking at mood-boosting tips for children and young people aged 12 to 19. It can be done in 10-minute bitesize chunks and looks at topics including understanding anxiety & worry, grief, low mood, low motivation, sleep difficulties & steps to wellbeing – click here
If you are looking for a way to ease stress and anxiety, the Chipper Birds blog looks at how listening to bird song can help and offers a selection of free tracks you can listen to – click here
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 Special Needs Jungle website has lots of information about temporary changes to the laws on special educational needs and Education Health and Care Plans during the pandemic – 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
The Museum of English Rural Life, at the University of Reading, has a range of countryside history resources on its website that can be used on visits to the museum, in schools or for home schooling to support several subjects at Key Stage 1 to 4 – click here.
Autism researchers at City University in London have collaborated with staff at LVS Hassocks, an autism-specific school in Sussex, to develop a guide to help education professionals better understand memory and learning in autistic people and how to support them – click here.
Autism Berkshire and fellow Berkshire charities Parenting Special Children and The Autism Group have teamed up with the East Berkshire and Berkshire West NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups to create a list of top tips for parents and carers of autistic children and children with ADHD to help them get ready for the expected return to school in September.
Back to School after Lockdown tips from NHS Senior Clinical Psychologist, Dr Shreena Ghelani, to help parents get their children ready for the return to school – 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