Smith College Studies in Social Work | 2021
Thriving in the New Normal: How COVID-19 has Affected Alternative Learners and Their Families and Implementing Effective, Creative Therapeutic Interventions
ABSTRACT COVID shelter-in-place directives have increased stress families of kids who are alternative learners–those with ADHD, ASD and LD. Already struggling to manage emotions, to begin and finish home and school tasks and maintain social connections, these kids have lost critical in-person academic, therapeutic and peer support systems. Meanwhile, tension at home has increased as parents, untrained in special education and often dealing with their own attention and learning challenges, have to deal with work, financial and housing responsibilities while tutoring their children without necessary training. Increased anxiety, higher levels of reactivity and persistent disappointment further complicate family relationships. Interventions to help families of kids who are neurodiverse, alternative learners are most effective when they rely on the 5 C’s method of successful ADHD parenting. Working together for effective solutions based on meaningful incentives reduces family conflict, improves kids’ participation and fosters parent-child cooperation. When therapists apply this model and assist families in using it, they strengthen emotional attunement and shift the family narrative away from problem-saturated thinking toward resilience and thriving.