Making the world a predictable place
Video: "What can I put in place for my relative during COVID-19?"
People gain a sense of security when they are able to understand and predict the world around them. For people with learning disabilities this can be much more difficult and the world can therefore be a confusing place, making behaviours that challenge much more likely. This is even more likely to be the case at the moment given all the changes that COVID-19 has brought.
Here are some things you could do to try and help your relative These strategies are helpful for people with a wide range of abilities, whatever their age:
Establishing clear and consistent routines. This does not mean making life rigid and boring but it does mean having a clear and predictable order to some key life areas (a morning routine, a bedtime routine, a mealtime routine, a washing routine).
"he is now in a routine, he goes to bed every night at half eight, he is now letting me brush his teeth, and he loves his shower, it’s all about consistency."
Taking extra time to communicate to your relative what is about to happen. This could include showing a picture or object that relates to an activity or event that is about to happen.
Developing a visual timetable. A visual timetable shows your relative what will be happening next just like having a diary for the day. You might have a visual timetable for your relative's morning routine with pictures for each of the activities (e.g. getting up, using the toilet, brushing teeth, having breakfast, getting dressed) or for the core events across their day. You can access a how to guide here
Use “first…then” strips or boards (sometimes called "now and next" boards). These involve using 2 pictures to show your relative what is happening “first” and what is happening after that (“then”). These boards can be used for specific times of day or throughout the whole day. Once each activity is finished it is removed from the strip and replaced with the activity which was “then”. A new activity is then added so that the “first…then” strip is still complete. At each stage it is important to communicate with your relative and support them to understand what is happening now, next and when an activity is finished. A guide to producing "first...then" strips can be found here
Transitions between activities can be a particularly difficult time for people with learning disabilities. It is often helpful for people to be supported to understand when an activity (especially a favoured one) is about to end and a future activity to begin. Some ways of doing this include giving a verbal count down / prompts / reminders, using colour-coded cards or symbols (a traffic light system), egg timers or other devices that provide a series of indicators prior to the transition.