Talking to kids about Coronavirus

“Kids worry more when they’re kept in the dark”

Rachel Ehmke, Child Mind Institute

With the outbreak and ongoing uncertainty of the Coronavirus/COVID-19, we feel it is important to provide resources and ideas to ensure those who have communication challenges also get the information they need.

Please download our aided language display (available at the end of this article) designed specifically to support these conversations. Please note that this is a general resource and may need to be personalised or modified to suit your child/person’s vocabulary and/or layout of their system. You may need to reduce the number of items, program the vocabulary onto their device, or use partner assisted scanning rather than pointing. Please talk to your speech pathologist or AAC specialist if you have questions in relation to this process. 

 

Give the facts: 

The recommendations from experts is to buffer children from the ongoing news feed about Coronavirus, but it’s also important to give them the facts at a level that suits their age and understanding. 

With the changing face of the virus, we can’t make a display that covers all of the facts. We suggest that you stay updated with credible news sites and use your child/person’s system to talk about additional facts that are not on our display. For example, this might be a good time to explore countries of the world, and talk about them. If you don’t have them, maybe add them to your system or onto the places list if using PODD.

 

Talk about what you can do:

“ Teaching kids what they can do to keep themselves and others safe is a positive way to make them feel empowered”

ABC News

We’ve provided vocabulary to talk about the virus but more importantly, the recommendation from experts is to talk to your children about what you are doing to stay safe.

For example (words in bold are what you would model on your AAC system whilst speaking the whole phrase):

  • You and me (we) wash hands
  • Stay away from sick people
  • Try not to touch our face 
  • Stay home
  • You and me (we) have supplies if we need to stay home
  • Go to doctor if you and me (we) get sick
  • Doctors making medicine for sick people soon

 

Check in and keep talking

 Take an opportunity of time to talk about the virus with your child/person who uses AAC. By using the display provided and also their own system, you can help to show them the words they might need to use to ask questions or tell you things that they already know about it. 

You might also model to them questions they might be thinking about.

For example:

  • What is COVID-19?
  • Who gets sick?
  • How do you get sick/COVID-19?
  • What can we do?
  • What about (person)? – If you think they might be worried about others. 
  • What if you and me (we) get sick?

It’s not something you need to talk about constantly, but it is important to update when needed or check in occasionally. Remember, the intention is not to scare your child/person into panic, but it is to acknowledge that they are likely hearing people talk about this virus. Maybe on the radio, people at school (students or staff), or within your home. Just because you are not talking to them, it doesn’t mean they are not hearing things. The power and control for them (and for all of us) is in asking questions and talking about it.

Through conversation we learn more and gain the information we need to feel in control. 

CLICK HERE to download our Coronavirus aided language display (ALD)

COVID-19 Coronavirus aided language display
Aided language display for augmentative and alternative communication AAC to talk about Coronavirus or COVID-19

There are 2 pages to the ALD as it is intended to be a double-sided board. Printing each page and laminating them together is the most robust method for regular use.

 

Suggestions and information in this blog post are based on the following website information:

6 thoughts on “Talking to kids about Coronavirus

  1. […] Dès aujourd’hui j’ai donc gardé les enfants à la maison et ce, jusqu’à une date indéterminée … Pour expliquer ce qui se passe à Titi, j’ai préparé des supports visuels . Nous avons fait, Titi et moi, comme tous les matins, son emploi du temps visuel de la journée puis j’ai écrit une histoire sociale visuelle pour lui expliquer qu’il allait rester à la maison pendant un certain temps et qu’il faudrait faire attention quand on sortirait . J’ai ensuite imprimé et traduit à la main un Tableau de Langage Assisté sur le sujet du Coronavirus pour qu’on puisse en parler :https://janellesampson.wordpress.com/2020/03/12/talking-to-kids-about-coronavirus/ […]

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this resource. I wouldn’t have had time to make one and now have printed yours off, laminated and we can talk to my son about Corona Virus in his language. My thanks to everyone who helped with this.
    Jo

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! This is very important to assure everyone has a voice during this time! I will be sharing with my students and families!

    • That is so great to hear! Thanks for letting me know. We are working on lots more online content at Two Way Street so stay posted, we should have some webinars and other online activities and resources coming online by early next week.

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