The Ministry of Community Development has set a series of additional and exceptional precautionary measures to deal with people of determination in light of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help parents and caregivers of this group to overcome the challenges surrounding them, and to support them morally to continue their daily life in safety and security.
Through the Welfare and Rehabilitation Department for People of Determination, the Ministry issued a series of procedural instructions and steps that allow parents to help their children with intellectual disabilities cope with the reality of staying at home. A set of strategies has also been developed to support people with autism specifically during their time in home quarantine.
Wafa Hamad Bin Sulaiman, Director of Welfare & Rehabilitation Department for People of Determination, stated that the Ministry emphasized the importance of taking additional precautionary measures in dealing with people of determination in the current circumstances, given the many challenges related to the behavior or needs and requirements of the people of determination, including a person with physical disabilities who may find difficulties to carry out basic hygiene measures such as continuous access to washrooms, or may have physical difficulty rubbing his hands and the expected difficulty in achieving the principle of physical separation from others, given the need for care providers to be in welfare center for the people of determination.
These challenges also include the need for the people of determination to touch objects, especially visually impaired categories when they need to obtain information from the surrounding environment, the need to use support tools that may be susceptible to the viruses, such as wheelchairs, white stick, walker, etc., therefore the presence of these obstacles in obtaining information on public health, must be provided in appropriate form such as sign language, or voice messages. Some people of determination may also suffer from certain health conditions such as weakened immune and respiratory systems such as cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis under treatment. Other challenges are such as difficulty in accessing health care facilities and optimal communication with medical providers, and difficulty in understanding or remembering prevention procedures by people with intellectual disabilities.
Wafa Hamad Bin Sulaiman identified 7 strategies for parents to achieve optimal support for people with autism during home quarantine period: to help them understand what is going on around them in a simplified way, give them the opportunity to express what is on their minds, follow appropriate calming skills with them, maintain as much as possible the daily routine activities they are accustomed to, try to build new routine activities gradually to adapt to the current reality, encourage communication with others remotely, and observe any change in behavior.
The Ministry of Community Development has also established instructions to help children with intellectual disabilities on how to cope with staying at home, including the need to explain to the child in a simplified way the current situation and the reason for staying at home, not to over-expose the child to daily news about the virus so as not to raise his or her stress, to try to organize the child's daily time: entertainment, studying, playing, housework, reading stories, television, in addition to the need to maintain sleep times, get up and eat, encourage the child to participate in simple household tasks, communicate with his colleagues, friends and teachers, and assign him daily tasks, however simple, and encourage them, such as arranging the bed, bringing food.
The Ministry also instructed to help children with intellectual disabilities during the current circumstances and the need for more daily activities during the child's home life: prayers, drawing, clay, comic books, with the importance of encouraging the child to share playing every day, preferably as many times a day as possible, and trying to recognize the emotional state of the child and share his feelings.
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