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Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Dr. Shafali Jeste of UCLA Shares Advice for Parents of Children With Autism

Dr. Shafali Jeste, a pediatric neurologist, shared advice for parents of children with autism during the Coronavirus quarantine.

In an interview this month with Action News, Dr. Shafali Jeste, a pediatric neurologist at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, shared advice for families whose children are home due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Jeste’s advice focused specifically on families with children who have autism, for whom structure and routine is especially important.   

Jeste encouraged parents to describe the Coronavirus situation to their children in simple terms, explaining that their schedule will now be different and that they will now have a fun opportunity to learn at home rather than going to school. Jeste also emphasized the importance of sticking to a schedule to maintain structure and routine. She acknowledged that the stay-at-home orders are especially challenging for students with developmental disabilities, since they are now cut off from the services and support they receive through the school system, such as speech, occupational, and physical therapy. 

Jeste recommended that parents temper their expectations, and not attempt to recreate school at home. Rather, they should focus on sticking to a schedule for the first two hours of the morning and the last two hours of the day, and should make sure their children go to bed on time. Jeste also noted that physical isolation is not the same as social isolation, and that parents should make an effort to stay connected to friends, colleagues, and other parents, as well as health care providers, who can provide telehealth services. 


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