Today is World Autism Awareness Day, thinking of all families during this difficult time!
I walk into the kitchen area holding my Tupperware, material for one of the many activities I’ve been doing with Justin, my severely autistic teenager (he matches lids to bottoms better than I do). My eldest is now heading upstairs for some computer time well-earned, and my youngest is on hour three of virtual homeschooling. I take a moment to reflect upon how grateful I am that the last two weeks have gone so smoothly, and treat myself to a piece of chocolate.
My priorities are still intact.
There were a few glitches when I started homeschooling Justin, but the staff at his school have been wonderful with communication and I think I’ve figured them all out. I’ve been reaching out to my group of friends with autistic children, and there seems to be a unanimous consensus- everyone has adjusted and is doing really well. Autistic kids and adults are not really known for their capacity to adapt to change- many love their routines religiously, and the virus has completely disrupted that sense of continuity for them. Like many of my friends I’ve worried that Justin would have meltdowns when he realized he wasn’t going to school or anywhere- years ago, this would have completely been the case. Instead, like my friends’ children, he has completely gone with the flow, even complying to take walks around the neighborhood and not insisting on getting into my car.
I’m grateful for that too.
The truth is I’m not surprised by how well it’s gone for me and my friends. Being autism families, most of us have all spent a great deal of time in our houses at some point in our lives. There were years where there were only a handful of places I could take Justin due to his behaviors, and certainly we were not going out as often as most of my friends with neurotypical kids. I remember when we came up to Jersey from Virginia to house hunt I told my husband we’d better really love the house we chose because we’d be spending a lot of time in it, and that has proven to be true. And while my ability to get Justin out has increased over the years, his desire to go certain places has decreased. We are home a lot. We’ve had a lot of practice with self-quarantine.
We’ve also had a lot of experience with adversity.
While I am thrilled with our success and the success of my friends’ families, I am under no illusion that shelter in place has gone so well for all the families in our community. I have read many posts online of families who are really struggling. There are those with higher functioning children and adults who don’t understand why they’re not going to beloved schools and day programs. There are more challenged adults and children bereft at their inability to go to a favorite restaurant or movie theater. There are children who have begun to regress in skills, adults exhibiting aggressive or self-injurious behavior.
There are many families not posting pictures of their fabulous social distancing hikes.
I’m writing this post because there are families out there who are truly struggling, who are even more isolated than they were two weeks ago. There are many with children and adults who are truly suffering with these restrictions, who are unable to comprehend why mom and dad can’t tell them when this will be over.
I want you to know you are not forgotten.
I want you to know you are strong, and you will get through this.
I want you to remember that someday, while we will have a “new normal,” this will be over.
We see you.
We remember you.
Don’t give up.
For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com
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