CLEVELAND — We're less than a week into Ohio's stay at home order, due to the coronavirus outbreak, and that means our normal routine or schedule looks much different. This can be challenging.
The Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities said this be can particularly tough for people with a disability - no matter their ability level.
“They are used to consistency and schedule," said Lisa Paramore, the agency's communication manager.
During the stay at home order, the Stark County Board of DD has employees going into homes, where people are healthy, to provide day support for caregivers. They want to make sure the basic needs are being met.
“We want families to know we are open 24/7 to support them at this time,” said William Green, Superintendent for Stark DD. “We know many of the people we serve fall into the category of having compromised health and very specific needs, so we need to be vigilant in getting them the support they need.”
Paramore has experienced challenges with the order firsthand. She has a son with disabilities.
"I thought, we have our weekend routine that we normally do and he'll be fine," she said. "But it only took me two to three days into the stay at home order and I knew I needed to provide some structure."
Paramore recommended that parents who have children with disabilities create a schedule similar to the one that your child is used to. This includes eating and taking medications close to their usual times.
"If you haven't talked with your child's teacher or staff, reach out to them. Ask what a typical day looks like for your son or daughter," she advised. "Then try to replicate that as best you can."
The communications manager also said, like everyone else, use technology to your advantage. "That's what I'm really worried about, is those face-to-face communications and connections," Paramore said. "So call or FaceTime teachers at their school or their friends. Hearing a familiar voice outside the family can really help."
They also advised parents to look at Facebook or other websites. Search for activities that have been virtual because of social distancing, like story time or short workouts.
"My son typically goes to Planet Fitness with his adult day camp three times a week for exercise. So I said to him, 'Okay, I want you walking in the yard or in the neighborhood socially distancing," she said. "Anything that can replicate or give purpose to what they're doing it helps."
Paramore said while this is difficult for everyone, she believes this is an opportunity for kids with disabilities to show what they're capable of.
“So often we think our kids with disabilities can’t step up to the plate, that they don’t understand. Yeah, we might have to explain things a little different, but really I think the more we can believe that our kids can rise to the challenge, they can.
The agency is also looking for a helping hand. If you're interested, click here for the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities.