Scripts make the jab easier for children with autism | the lawyer

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Melbourne mum Leah Dean knows better than anyone that attending a COVID-19 vaccination appointment is anything but simple for children with autism. Loud noises, crowds and bright lights anywhere, not to mention a busy vaccination center — coupled with the uncertainty of a whole new experience — can make her teenage son very anxious. But with the help of a set of special step-by-step instructions called a social script, 13-year-old Alexander recently managed to successfully complete both injections. Autism advocacy organization Amaze, in partnership with National Disability Services and supported by the Government of Victoria, has created a series of such tools for children with autism. Their launch coincides with the nationwide rollout of the 5-11 year old vaccination, but it is hoped the scripts will help all children and young people with autism and their supporters. The materials include photos and simple text to show people with autism what they might see or encounter when experiencing a new experience, with the aim of reducing anxiety and worry. “Thinking about getting Alex vaccinated was a bit worrying at first because I didn’t know how he would handle the process,” Ms Dean said. She says the social script prepared Alex for each of the different steps he needed to take on his date, such as wearing a mask and having his temperature taken. “It also prepared him for what he might feel next, which meant he felt less anxiety.” The social script also gave choices he could make, like wearing a hat and sunglasses on the go to help him deal with the light better, and earmuffs. or headphones to help manage the sound. The script meant that Leah and Alex didn’t have to think of everything, just “customize it to our situation”. Amaze CEO Jim Mullan said the organization received government funding to develop the scripts along with a range of other resources to help autistic people of all ages get vaccinated. “Preparing for a new experience is crucial for people with autism,” he said. “We now have seven COVID-19 social scripts for different age groups and different settings, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive about them.” National Disability Services CEO Laurie Leigh says her organization greatly appreciates the partnership’s efforts to help children with disabilities receive the jab. “These social scripts are an engaging and valuable resource for all children and young people, caregivers and families to understand what is involved…and the different support options available to them,” she said. . To download social scripts and access other resources, visit www.amaze.org.au/autismconnect or contact the national Autism Connect helpline on 1300 308 699 Australian Associated Press

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