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

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. 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

Books Beyond Words has a number of free picture stories and illustrated guides available to help autistic people and people with learning disabilities to cope with the coronavirus pandemic – click here for details of what’s available.

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

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, and has a range of resources to help during the pandemic – 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 resources and 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 advice and coronavirus resources available – click here

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 resources 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

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 coronavirus lockdowns – click here

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

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

The Frimley Park NHS Trust, which run Wexham Park Hospital in Slough and Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot, has issued details of how its services will operate during the pandemic – click here

Berkshire West Safeguarding Children Partnership has put together guides to help families and individuals, called Coping: Family Life during the LockdownCoping – 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

Autism research charity Autistica has some tips about mental health and coping with uncertainty during the shutdown – click here and 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 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 contact advisers from the area’s Emotional Health Academy early intervention team for help via an online form – click here.

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Trust’s school nursing texting service is 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

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 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

The National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth is running a series of live online Deep Science learning sessions from 1pm to 1.20pm on Friday afternoons from January 15 to February 26 to teach children about the oceans – 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’s Maths Factor online maths courses for children aged 4 to 12 can be tried our free of charge for a 21-day trial period – 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 and there are links to other helpful science resources – click here

Alex Kelly, a speech therapy and social communication specialist from Hampshire, has made 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 21-day trial 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

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 regular Wellbeing Guides with simple ideas for parents and teachers 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 return to school after lockdown.

  • Click here to download the East Berkshire version
  • Click here to download the Berkshire West version

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