Health & Wellbeing
Improving vaccination experiences for the Autistic community
This short webinar was produced for Public Health Tasmania in October 2021.
It advises on aspects of vaccine clinics that Autistic people may find challenging and how to address these to better accommodate Autistic people’s needs.
COVID-19 Support Resources
The COVID-19 situation continues to change leading to frequent and significant changes in our daily lives. On a positive note, the availability of information, resources and supports has improved significantly.
The following government websites provide the latest COVID-19 information to help you stay informed:
- The Australian Government Department of Health
- The Tasmanian Government Public Health Link
- The NDIS Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Support
Autism Tasmania has created five information sheets (below) to offer help and advice on several COVID-19 areas (see below). If you still have questions you can always call our Advisory team on (03) 6722 5000, or online self referral.
- Mask Wearing & Social Distancing
- COVID-19 Vaccinations
- Testing for COVID-19
- Support for Carers during COVID-19
- Return to School during COVID-19 pandemic
More information on the following topics can be found further down this page.
- School and Covid-19
- Mask Wearing Tips & Hacks
- Vaccine Booster Program
- Looking after your own well-being
- Health and Hygiene
Returning to School during COVID-19 pandemic
The Tasmanian Department of Education has released its plans for a safe return to school and there are several temporary changes in place that may affect your child’s routines and needs. For more information on this and for resources that can help with the changes, download the Autism Tasmania information sheet on Return to School during COVID-19 pandemic.
My Book About Coronavirus is an illustrated ebook for children that helps explain what a virus is and why we have various restrictions in place as well as how they keep us safe. It’s a great resource to help children understand the effects of COVID-19 and the importance of being cautious whilst remaining calm. Download the ebook here
Mask Wearing Tips & Hacks
There are times when you might need to wear a facemask, both indoors and outdoors. Some autistic people find it difficult to wear facemasks for a variety of reasons, such as sensory sensitivities, coping with change and difficulty communicating while wearing a mask. To read tips and tricks, find out about mask exemptions and exceptions download this Autism Tasmania information sheet on Mask Wearing & Social Distancing.
If you can wear a mask, you should. If you can’t, don’t panic. Even in places where wearing face masks is mandatory, there are exceptions and lawful reasons not to wear one.
If a person has a condition where the wearing of a mask is not suitable, they will need to carry a medical certificate that states this fact. This applies to both adults and children over age 12.
Note that the certificate does not need to state the condition – only the unsuitability of mask-wearing for the person.
Autism Tasmania is working with Tasmanian Public Health officials to develop community education that fosters the understanding that there are highly legitimate reasons why someone might not wear a mask and to be assured that that person is not a risk because they are taking all other precautions.
Download these handy tips to help when wearing a mask – COVID-19 Mask tips
Download this social story explaining why people wear masks – Social Story: wearing masks
Vaccine booster program
The COVID-19 vaccine booster program is now underway!
So what are the benefits of a booster?
A booster dose will make sure the protection from your first dose is even stronger and longer-lasting and should help prevent the spread of the virus. This helps to protect you, your loved ones and your community against COVD-19. Importantly booster doses are free for everyone.
You can book your booster jab in one of the following ways:
- Vaccine Clinic Finder
- National Coronavirus and COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline phone 1800 020 080.
- COVID-19 vaccines from local pharmacies – find your nearest pharmacy to book an appointment
- Disability vaccination clinics and in-reach services
- People with disability can also get help to book a COVID-19 vaccine from the Disability Gateway or phone 1800 643 787.
Disability Vaccination Clinics
These clinics help people with disability, their family and carers, and the disability workforce get vaccinated in the fastest way possible, specific to their circumstances. Search the online directory here to find a disability access hub near you.
These social scripts are designed to help people on the Autism spectrum know what to expect when going to get their COVID-19 vaccine. These scripts help to reduce anxiety by using story-based images and descriptions that help prepare an individual for new experiences and social environments.
Download the social script: Going to the GP to get my COVID-19 vaccine
Download the social script: Going to a mass vaccination centre to get my COVID-19 vaccine
If you’re feeling anxious about receiving your vaccine you can use the CARD system to help you feel more relaxed. This system has four key areas:
C is for Comfort, ensuring you wear something loose and comfortable
Ask questions, talk to someone you trust about what to expect and how you can prepare to make the experience easier for you
Relax, think of ways you normally keep yourself calm and relaxed like taking slow, deep breaths
Distract, if you don’t like looking at the needle you can talk to the nurse about something else or use an object to distract yourself such as reading a magazine.
Find out more about the CARD system and download this information sheet: The CARD System
This article from the Harvard Medical School discusses the challenges people on the autism spectrum may experience with wearing masks and having COVID-19 tests and offers practical solutions. For the full article follow this link
Buzzy Bees – offering pain relief when receiving your vaccination.
Buzzy Bees are a novel device that offers pain relief using a combination of cold and vibration while you receive your vaccination. Buzzy Bees are now available at state community vaccination clinics, ask about using one when you book your appointment.
Looking after your own wellbeing
For help and advice on keeping yourself safe while caring for others, download the Autism Tasmania information sheet on Support for Carers during COVID-19.
The Australian Psychological Society has developed some information sheets that provide strategies that can help both adults and children cope with the stress or anxiety experienced as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. They can be accessed here.
For parents supporting children on the spectrum
The CliniKids team at Telethon Kids Institute have developed some short videos with tips to assist parents who are supporting children on the spectrum during this challenging time. Watch the developing series here
Carol Gray is writing a series of social stories specifically about the pandemic. Read her stories here
The Raising Children Network has straightforward information about COVID-19 (coronavirus) and practical advice for families. Follow this link
The Australian Coalition for Inclusive Education (ACIE) has developed a Learning at Home During a Time of Crisis resource which can be accessed here.
Amanda Webster, a senior lecturer of autism and inclusive education at University of Wollongong has published an article via SBS Insight on 5 tips to help parents navigate the unique needs of children with autism learning from home. The page can be accessed here.
Richard Delorme, head of the Center of Excellence for Autism Spectrum Disorders and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at Robert Debré Hospital in Paris and Benjamin Landman, chief resident at the center have created more than 30 instructional modules designed to provide resources, counsel, information, lessons, schedules and overall aid to families confined to their homes. The modules were published via the website www.spectrumnews.org – “Coronavirus tool kit may aid families with autistic children during lockdown” which is available here.
Health and hygiene
These 30 minute eLearning modules about Infection Control may be useful for support workers or carers who may need to have close physical contact with other people:
- The Australian Government Department of Health has partnered with Aspen Medical who has developed this COVID-19 Infection Control training. This is for care workers in all settings. It covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19
- Disability Services Consulting have developed an online course called “Supporting People to Stay Infection Free“. This 30 minute module is an early release from their upcoming support worker training suite and goes through some theory and lots of practical strategies for preventing and controlling infections.
Many Autistic children may find it difficult to maintain an effective oral hygiene routine because of sensory sensitivities. There are things that parents and carers can do to help, such as using autism-friendly dental products, find out more here.
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