Can I Prevent My Child with Special Needs from Getting Coronavirus?
You can’t help it—you are fearful about the well-being of your children when you are a parent. And if you are the parent of a child who has autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, or another type of disability, it can be extra worrisome as the stories about COVID-19 (coronavirus) flood the news. What is the risk? Can you prevent your child with special needs from getting coronavirus?
Coronavirus: What it is
According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common to many species of animals, such as camels, cattle, cats, and bats. In rare cases, these viruses can spread among humans, such as with MERS and SARS. The current coronavirus — also referred to as a novel (new) coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2 — was first detected in 2019, in Wuhan City in the Hubei Province of China. It has since been detected in travelers, as well as confirmed in people without known exposure to the region or other known patients.
The name of the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19, short for coronavirus disease 2019.
How do people get coronavirus?
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person — between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet), through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of those who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. The virus is also spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects.
In short, your child with special needs can get coronavirus through the respiratory route like a cold or flu.
What can I do to protect my child with special needs?
We are still learning about this new virus; there is much we do not know yet about how it spreads, how serious it can be, or how to treat it. The fact that so much is unknown is a big part of what makes it scary. But there are things we do know — about this virus and other similar viruses — that can help us keep our children safe and well.
- Make sure everyone washes their hands. Using soap and water and washing for 20 seconds does the trick. If you don’t have a sink handy, hand sanitizer will do — make sure you spread it well, getting it all over the hands including between the fingers. Wash before meals and snacks, after being in public places, and after being around anyone who is or might be sick.
- Encourage healthy habits, like eating a healthy diet, exercising, and getting enough sleep. This helps keep your child’s immune system strong.
- Make sure your child with special needs has received the flu vaccine. The flu is far more common — and can be very dangerous too.
- Teach your child with special needs not to touch their mouth, eyes, or nose with their hands unless they have just washed them. This is easier said than done. Make a game out of it — have them itch with their knees instead. Carry tissues and throw out used tissues promptly.
- Teach your child with special needs to be careful about the surfaces they touch when you are out in public. Little hands seem to instinctively reach for everything around them, so you’ll need to be creative. Bring things for them to hold instead or hold hands with them. It’s not a bad idea to carry some wipes with you to wipe down seats, tables, and other such things in public areas before you use them.
You should also check in with your doctor if there is something about your child’ with special needs’ health that concerns you. And most of all, try not to panic. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around. Check reliable sources for updates, follow these tips, and call your doctor if you have any questions.
If you need help with more resources, please contact us.
American Disability Association is dedicated to the wellbeing and protection of children with disabilities and actively provides support to enhance their quality of life. Whether you are dealing with federal or state benefits or struggling with a school district to get proper education for your child, we have the resources to help you. Many individuals and families managing a disability are not aware of the wide array of services available to them, or they do not know how to apply for these benefits in a way that is likely to succeed.
Contact us for help. Dial (888) 323-2133 or email us at [email protected]