Health & Wellbeing

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 Vaccination Program

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.

How do Buzzy Bees work?

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.

COVID-19 Vaccination Disability Provider Alert

The Department of Health issues regular Disability Provider Alerts regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. The latest update released in October 2021 includes:

  • Hubs offering vaccination services
  • Third doses for severely immunocompromised Australians
  • National Coronavirus Helpline priority support
  • Social scripts for people with autism
  • Proof of vaccination.

Download the latest update here. 

All people aged 12 and up are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine.

Use the Vaccines Clinic Finder to book your vaccination appointment here.

Find out more about how to prepare for your vaccine below.

COVID-19 Support Resources

The COVID-19 situation is causing frequent and significant changes in our daily lives. The uncertainty is unsettling for us all. On a positive note, there are many services that are creating and sharing very useful resources to help. We have compiled a list of them here.

To stay up to date with the most recent advice, we recommend that you visit the following websites:

The Australian Government Department of Health

The Tasmanian Government Public Health link

Tips to help you prepare for getting your vaccine

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

COVID Lock-down and mask mandates

Mask Mandates, Tips & Hacks

If Public Health Orders requiring a lock-down are made, mask-wearing in public is one of the most important public health and safety measures. The Tasmanian Director of Public Health has advised that exemptions for mask wearing in airports, hospitals and aged care would be applied more broadly in the event of a lockdown.

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.

Current exemptions for mask-wearing include:

  • A person under 12
  • A person with a medical certificate or other documentation from a medical practitioner (within the meaning of the Acts Interpretation Act 1931) that certifies that the person has a physical, mental health, illness or condition of disability that makes the wearing of a mask unsuitable
  • A person or a class of persons exempted by the Director of Public Health
  • For the two above, the person must also produce a legible copy, if requested, by a person in authority.

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

Looking after your own wellbeing

The Australian Psychological Society has developed some information sheets that provide strategies which 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

Andrew Whitehouse and 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) have 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, 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.
Recommendations for managing masks and COVID-19 tests

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

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