Unless you live under a rock, or are on tribal lands, the media is laden with constant breaking news of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Outbreak. The outbreak started in the Wuhan Provence of China and has spread around the globe attacking most of the continents. For the past week, the states has been in fear with federal, state, tribal and local jurisdictions having citizens testing positive or presumptive positive for the virus.
There is no cure nor vaccine, only treatment that requires one to have limited contact and requiring self-isolation from others, something that hasn’t been commenced since WWII. In the past few days, while trying to not get too immersed in overload, as it is not healthy and trying to remain calm. It is increasingly difficult to do so as cases of the virus got closer and closer to the area. We are now seeing airplanes being screened, cruise ships with cases, among others.
This week has been a difficult week with the start of Daylight Savings Time, a week where the full moon is abound and closing the workweek with Friday the 13th. With that as surrounding states in addition to Pennsylvania made gradual closures, the ultimate decision was made to close all schools and libraries, among other commonwealth sites. My mother works at the local state transportation department and was directed by her superiors to use social distancing upon return.
My employer is supported by the county government and the governing body set a declaration Friday. I received a phone call from my supervisor to not return to work until further notice as I am classified non-essential and have no workload requiring deadlines. However, my job support program is open as of now, although they have cancelled all outside and public events until further notice, although I have a feeling before long we as will be my mom will be sent home.
As an individual on the spectrum, I have experienced burnout the last few days from the local stores I visited. I have seen bare shelves and checkout lines extended in each aisle from the front of the back of a grocery store with only two cashiers (and one elected to work past his shift.) My mother and I stood in that line in that store for 35 minutes and the local super center had more checkouts open than the holidays. If you or your child has struggles being in crowds, I would suggest if possible an online service. Wal-Mart Stores are closed at night in order to restock and sanitize, although we got a up front parking space. I did snap photographs of the shelves of where the bread and potatoes are to be. The only breads were Gluten Free (My Dad is a Celiac, woo hoo!) organic and flavored. I have never seen so many TP references or Beavis and Butt-Head clips this weekend than I did in 25 years.
Social isolation and distancing is a difficult situation for those of the special needs community. Today, I came across an article in USA Today where an aide in a public school for special needs in Chicago contracted the virus, therefore requiring the 200 students and staff of the school to self-quarantine. A local legislator is delivering supplies to those households. Nonetheless, this is very strenuous on the caregivers, as some individuals have compromising health issues, not to mention the behavioral challenges they face. The article noted that an individual was becoming physically aggressive as a result of being contained in their home. One parent stated “You can’t Neflix all day.” Special needs students face a challenge of being educated remotely as well
Tonight I am thankful as I am writing this blog post that I have the ability to regulate my emotions. Last week, at my job support program, as I was reading the daily announcements and staff announced certain events would be cancelled, another individual slammed his hands down and screamed at me to “shut up.” Thankfuilly, staff redirected quickly without incident but It did shake me up bit because I was looking at a less mature version of me. Over the last month and a half I have had several changes including my work and living situation that have been rather difficult on not only myself, but my parents as well, since I am residing with them.
Today, when I received that phone call to not report to work, I was frustrated. However, when I reached out to one of my supports, they reminded me of how these events were God’s plan and that they felt that this was a way of God telling me that I needed more time off. There is a possibility that I will be paid for missed work, but as this national pandemic is evolving, I am uncertain as of yet if that will occur.
Yes, autistics thrive off of routines, and I know several that do. But growing up I have been continually been taught that the need for flexibility needs to be brought in as necessary. Autists have issues with this and the times ahead are uncertain, however these are a few tips from several sources, this one I adapted from today’s post on Autism Apples Kool Aid
- Always tell the truth! You aren’t protecting your child by lying – especially when they are hearing things from other people. You don’t need to share a lot of details – just say that you are staying home for a while to keep from getting sick. Use social stories if you need to.
- Be ready for questions and answer them simply. Tell them it’s like a bad cold and that you will be right there with them if they happen to get sick.
- Make the change in routine seem exciting! More time for favorite movies! Time to make crafts and read books. Time to play outside. More time for iPads, Legos and model trains. More time for Sesame Street and color by numbers. I know the change in routine will be tough if you need to quarantine – just take a deep breath and know everyone else is in the same boat.
- Explain why they have to wash their hands so often – and make a game out of washing them. Let them make bubbles and squish them. Sing goofy songs to make sure they are washing their hands long enough. (I made Casey and Rob use hand sanitizer after we left stores yesterday and to wash their hands as soon as they got home. They thought I was nuts. )
- Assure them that you have taken precautions and have enough food. (I’ve heard some crazy stories – I’m sure my kids have, too.) Lay those fears to rest. Share everything you have done to keep them safe. Again, even if your child can’t talk, they are hearing and they may be scared. Talk to them!
- Don’t let your kids see your stress. Easier said than done, I know, but if they see you are scared, it will scare them more.
In closing, take time to enjoy each other. You may struggle, but thank goodness for technological advancements! Embrace this time to show love for one another and count your blessings!
We will overcome!