Preparing Your Teenage Child with Special Needs or Disabilities For Their Vaccination Appointment
The rapid changes in daily routines, sudden lockdowns, increased safety requirements, and the unpredictable disturbances to healthcare access have inevitably affected children with special needs. When it comes to the question of when and how to get vaccinated, it presses a different set of challenges for both these beloved children with special needs as well as their carers. Thus, let us explore what you need to know to aid in your preparation for vaccination appointments for your child with disabilities and special needs.
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How To Prepare Your Loved One with Autism For The Covid-19 Vaccine?
Children with autism may react differently to an unfamiliar environment. Some of your children may find the unknown setting to be discomforting while for others, the sudden hustle and bustle may ignite a sense of curiosity. As such, to prepare them to face this new environment, giving them an explanation of what is expected beforehand is necessary.
It is best to explain to them where they are going, whether it is a convention center or a clinic, and the predicted setting to be seen. Discuss with your child regarding the presence of a kind individual in medical equipment who will be giving them an injection and how your child feels about it. Using terms that they are sure to understand, try to explain why they require these vaccinations, the anticipated outcome, and possible vaccination side effects.
One of the best ways to explain these complex concepts is to use visual methods such as your drawings or even pictures printed off the internet. By ensuring that your child is aware of the situation and the implications to themselves, it would make them feel better prepared upon arrival at the vaccination facility and allow them to feel included in decisions concerning their health and well-being.
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk
All Geared Up and Protected?
Before exiting the house, ensure that you and your loved one are all outfitted correctly to face the day! The new must-haves protectors against COVID-19 are masks, face shields or goggles, and latex gloves. It is also recommended that you and your child practice double masking whereby a disposable mask is worn with a cloth mask that has multiple fabric layers on top of it. If your child does rely on lip reading, some forms of communication that can be used when using masks are voice-to-text mobile applications or simply writing down the messages on paper.
For gloves, if you are unable to find the right size for your child, another method is to pop on some disposable plastic gloves and tie them with a ribbon to adjust the size. To further protect you and your child, it will be very handy to carry around some hand sanitisers or tissue wipes to keep your hands nice and clean from the virus!
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What To Do When You Have Arrived?
Once you have made it to the vaccination site, alert the staff that your child may require some extra help. For instance, some children with autism may be uncomfortable with bright lights and a noisy room. Just letting the staff know can aid tremendously as they can adjust and act accordingly to ensure a smooth vaccination process.
And finally? Congratulate yourself and your child for completing the vaccinations! Well done for taking these steps to protect yourselves and carry on keeping to the stipulated safety precautions to combat COVID-19.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). COVID-19 Vaccines for People with Disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/disabilities.html
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Improve How Your Mask Protects You. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/effective-masks.html
Kuo, D. (2021). COVID-19: Caring for Children and Adolescents with Special Health Care Needs. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-19-Youth-with-Special-Health-Care-Needs.aspx
Minnesota Department of Health. (2021). COVID-19 Vaccine For Youth with Special Needs or Disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/vaccine/vaxspecial.pdf