As I stated in my earlier post today; I stated I would give a more thorough post on how I am doing since we have been following stay at home orders for almost a month and personally choosing to self-isolate since.
But first, we have to time travel back six weeks to see where it all began.
March 16, things seemed normal, the world was having a pandemic. As long as we socially distanced, we would be able to have some kind of normal, although it would be different. However as the day progressed into that evening, services and appointments would slowly be cancelled or changed to a different method. My mother would be teleworking the very next day.
While I knew for my employment I knew a plan was in place for at least the next few weeks, I would learn that staying at home would be the normal of the time. I did go to my psychotherapy the first week, wearing gloves provided to each individual receiving services. I would additionally learn that the staff there would block time between clients to disinfect and sanitize the used area before the next patient. Little did I know that would be the one and only visit thus far with those safeguards.
That weekend I would learn that my mental health outpatient provider would be approved by my medicaid and medicare and the commonwealth license authority to provide telehealth services. I opted in as those transporting me due to family teleworking and changes such as the necessitate to wear gloves, etc. I am so glad I was provided this option, following the tips that I later found out this tipsheet from SAMHSA that was helpful. Anyway, I enjoyed this new venture. Little did I know that I would be preparing for my employment supports to transfer to that method as well.
The following weekend individuals in my employment supports program would learn that it was approved for telehealth services . And we were off the next week. Just ending our fourth week in this method, this has brought a great deal of routine for me as I am the volunteer webmaster and social media liaison for that program so I would be depended on to play a pivitol role in the telehealth process and being that the Program Director was the only staff that did not get furloughed, he would be reliant on myself for a lot of technical assistance that I perform at least a few tasks everyday, even on weekends.
Later on that week, I received a phone call from my employer asking if I would be interested in taking a voluntary furlough. I accepted the bad news as there are coworkers that require a job more than I would. However, the next weekend I would learn that a lot of us, including myself could telework, although my hours would be allotted in half. I was thankful to still be earning and still have time to participate in other facets I was participating in.
With all these services (among others) being delivered this method, I would learn that many other public events would be held this way. Such as Municipal Government Meetings, Support Groups, NA/AA, etc. It is my opinion that this will be a new and welcoming addition to the technology that is already in place in the world. Having virtual tools such as ZOOM and others provides an opportunity to otherwise connect to others for support or other meetings when an in-person appearance is not always the best or can be done.
Now I’m not downplaying the need to no longer have in person gatherings. As for right now these things such as the Facebook Lives and Zoom or WebEx’s, YouTube Live’s are crucial dude to national guidelines, but for meetings or support groups in rural or large communities where transportation may be complex or limited or a need may occur where attendance would be able to be completed in person, then these methods are the ticket.
As for change, as many autistics thrive on routines as their normality, I can definitely relate As in my past two blog posts, I have had quiite a bit of change in the past three months due to first residential issues and now the COVID-19 National Emergency. However, my home is ready for return, however due to COVID-19 regulations in public housing, I will not be able to return a I need critical furniture to return and it has to be moved in with help.
I have seen other autistics in social circles I am involved in not handle the changes with such ease. With my first situation then the added stress of being home with my parents complicated the situation for me. I was acting out. However as mentioned in my last post, I learned the catalyst of what that issues is, something I knew for some time, but with being in close quarters for some time I exhibited the true colors of this effect. I am working on this with my therapist to learn skills to effectively execute the skills needed to overcome this flaw. It is one of my few left, as the others have progressed well, some with the help of the situations I have been in recently.
However, there is some difference to the routine and its like that album from The Cranberries “Everyone Else is doing it, so why can’t we”, where you see others in public doing things that would not be advised by health officials, such as being out in public excessively, not social distancing, not wearing a mask (we’re in a state that requires masks to enter public places.) Yes my parents, especially my mother shares with me her desire to shop like we once did, but she cautions me of the dangers of COVID-19 and the need to stay home. We have the sign from the local healthcare system that we are the #stayhometeam.
Sometimes I disagree with her profusely about this, but at the end of disagreement,when I have had some moments to collect my thoughts,. I remember that she is doing it for not only my safety, but the safety of them because it is their home and they are senior citizens and they have underlying conditions. In all honesty, going to the Walmart produces a magnitude of anxiety. Just getting in is a big hurdle with the associate at the entrance with the people counter with me fearing that they are going to stop the entry with me. Then you progress down the aisles that are mostly directional and a lover of signs I have no disagreement there. However, I dislike when someone travels in the wrong direction.
Even more so yesterday when I seen an associate call out a customer kindly for doing so explaining the why, how and so forth. Nonetheless they agreed, yet continued in the wrong direction,. Then there are those that do not follow the guidance of our governing officials by wearing a mask, social distancing so forth. Finally after you are able to get those purchases that you made, and you follow social distancing by keeping your space to only have the cashier walk away from the stand by turning off her signal light and closing her register after you have been waiting, I was angry, but kept my composure and got into the adjoining line.
Other trips with contact have been limited. I go twice a week to my house to collect the mail. I have gone to the food pantry to get what we needed am grateful for the help I receive from there. It helps me during this national emergency and is teaching me to rely less on restaurants as that has changed in restaurants only offering takeout, some with modified services. Yesterday, we had Domino’s Pizza only because I have seen and heard of their protocols and are aware of their reputation to the community, The other takeout I had during this pandemic was the same, just 33 days before.
The so called new normal won’t be the same and I know that for sure. We will be social distancing and likely masking for some time. I will be less relying on takeaway and more so on cooking from home. As for working, we wont be able to likely return until the green level, again under the same conditions is garnered such as social distancing and masking. Day programs and other services too will be this way for some time due to this pandemic. I personally do not want to contract COVID because I am harsh when sick with the flu, let alone something serious as this. I know it will be some time before normal as we knew it will return but it has brought to light so many possible advances for the less fortunate.
Also, Please check out my Coronavirus webpage as things I find are continually added to it. Today, we had our State Secretary of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine point out the Autistic and ID community in her press breifing and provide some resources which I will add later.