To help our employment support agency partners through this difficult time, we have developed the following sheet that can be used as a tool to aid in supporting your clients who have or self-identify with autism. This is a difficult and complex social situation; it is very important that we take the time to break-down what is happening, and not assume that people understand what we understand about why things are unfolding the way that they are.
This is particularly important if you are working with a client who is about to be or has been laid-off from work because of the economic impact of the outbreak. Here are some tips we strongly encourage you use with your autistic clients:
Supports Around Change:
Give as much notice as possible when notifying an individual of a change, such as a cancelled appointment or workshop. Explain:
What the change is.
When the change will happen, and if known, how long.
Who the change
Why the change has happened.
Maintain as much routine as possible: If you were scheduled to meet with a client in person, if possible, meet at the same time online or over phone.
Use visuals as often as possible to describe the change. Calendars, flow charts and task lists can be helpful.
Some individuals may be anxious or heightened during your meetings. Allow extra time for clients to process information.
Direct clients to accurate sources of information regarding COVID-19. Autism Nova Scotia has a webpage dedicated to resources and updates relating to COVID-19. Please direct any clients on the spectrum to this website for up to date information regarding services and programs. http://www.autismnovascotia.ca/covid19
Supporting Around Loss of a Job or Reduced Hours:
Clients may be anxious, heightened and overwhelmed. Explain why they have been laid-off and reassure them that it is not their fault.
Provide additional support in navigating online, or over the phone services. Some individuals may need support making phone calls or sending emails.
If unable to support clients in phone calls, provide scripts that outline questions they need to ask, and information they will need to provide.
Provide visuals and guides for accessing information or filling out forms. Use simple, clear, and direct language.
Create an action plan of listed steps they will need to take.
Provide a list of resources and supports they can access.
Provide a clear hierarchy of who to contact in your agency, and how to contact them.
The health and safety of our program participants and the community is the main priority of Autism Nova Scotia. We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and heeding the government’s recommendations.
Given that social distancing is being advised wherever possible to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, we are not holding meetings in person, but we are able and ready to provide support online or over the phone for agencies, individuals, and families:
If you are an agency in need of support, contact Hannah Teeple:
Employment Supports Specialist
(902) 593-1015 Ext. 311
If you have a client on the Autism Spectrum that needs support in HRM; direct them Holly MacLellan:
Autism Employment & Outreach Coordinator
902-593-1015 ext. 310 (office), 902-210-2537 (cell)