There’s been endless debate on the impact of the pandemic on everyone’s mental health. There’s even discussions now on its long-term impact on a generation of children who’re experiencing little or no actual personal contact.
Many have no outside contact with anyone other than immediate families, they’ve only seen others through the prism of a mask; How will they interact with others in the future?
There are lots and lots of unknowns, on the long-term damage this pandemic will cause. But what of those who need routine?
Knowing what is coming next is a way of coping in a world that is hard to understand for many with Autism.
This is an insight in one family’s personal journey:
“Prior to Lockdown in March, all activities were cancelled to prevent the spread of Corona virus. This major upheaval in all our daily lives has been especially difficult for my young lad.
We had a year planner with term times, holidays, half-term all planned in his organised world. This is how he copes with the world around him.
Although he was able to attended college throughout lockdown, in March through to July as activities were restricted, it caused chaos and struggles. It meant total disorganisation of his world.
After the summer holiday break, he was very excited to be back at college. The structure and organisation of his world was restored, this was until the dreaded call from college to pick him up due to a failed temperature check.
That posed its own challenges – as the norm is not for mum to pick him up from college whilst classes are in progress. In protest, reluctant to come home during college session, he ran and hide in the toilet, where he locked himself in. In his structured mind, ‘it wasn’t time to go home’!.
This led to another major challenge, we had to take a Covid test – success at last, the result was negative – what a relief! He was able to go back to his routine!
Having got back to some form of normality, here we are again, a second lockdown.
Lockdown No. 2
Whilst preparing breakfast in readiness for college, the following happened:
We received a phone call from college. There had been a COVID positive case therefore, all students had to self-isolate for 14 days. This information may pose very little challenge for other families, but for someone with autism, it’s a major blow. This means another upheaval to a structure which he had only just come to accept – his world had to once again be reorganised.
Once we received yet, new details from the college. Here we go again putting together a new calendar so he’s fully informed of all changes. Despite all our best efforts, this new development, resulted in him feeling totally lost. His rigid routine had been disrupted for a second time.
Every day he would dress for college but stay in his room all day. He would come downstairs at precisely the time he would normally arrive home from college.
Throughout this second lockdown, the college did all it could to help. They would set up daily video calls throughout the period he was self-isolating. These were 15-20 minutes where he could do simple activities. This somehow reassured him.
With London now facing the possibility of further restrictions, we as a family are on tender hooks of how this will affect our daily lives.