Lourdes Grotto
COVID-19 Series, Dignity & Respect, Equality, Independence

Concentrating On COVID: A Slow Return

As of now, the Universal Masking order in my state has been lifted. Regardless, I still feel as if I need to keep my guard up. 2020 was a hell of a year for me, moving into a new home and closing the year with a spike of COVID cases. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was a little fearful of what the world might look like now that this masking order would be lifted.

To say that COVID has affected the mental health of those around the world would be an understatement. Even for those individuals including autistics that have had to experience a multitude of changes over the past fifteen months has been a challenge to say the least. I am very grateful that I have had not any ill effects of the virus or was not furloughed from my employment as a result of the pandemic. COVID added to an already traumatic experience that I was experiencing that ultimately caused me to be on the lookout for what would be my current home.

2020 literally turned my world upside down and made me count by blessings. It has also had some onset of fear, some irrational and some like that many are experiencing because of the virus. Once in my new home, I made it a personal goal to avoid the news media as much as I could. Shortly after I moved in my new home, I had to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in my home by myself, something I have never had to do in my entire life.

Some establishments in the world want us to think that it hardly even ever happened by removing all reminders that we need to be careful while picking up on other hints like increased sanitation. With that I commend the world because we have seen a host of cleaning businesses sprout up to meet demand. We have also seen the wages in many customer service positions increase because of poor retention and the ease of receiving government incentives. As a result, when we as autistics want to return to the places, we once remember over a year ago, road blocks in many cases are brought up by longer wait times and edgy staff making the experiences we chose to experience less enjoyable.

As autistics, we have had to many times take a back seat to what others experience as we often have a very limited palate of what we can experience in the community due to sensory issues and other related factors. Having to learn to do things in different ways all the times can be very challenging for us and can make us easily overwhelmed. For me, at times when this occurs, I oftentimes need to recharge my batteries, so to speak more often and I want to resort to not leaving my home. I personally know that I need to work on being independent again, however excessive rules and demands that are required to be followed can cause additional stress and burnout.

While things are seeming to get better, we still must be sensible of what we do. We must follow the adage of when we feel ill to stay home to respect the well being of others. Its just the sensible thing to do and I would hope that my peers would do the same. Some things that we haven’t experienced for some time my become sporadic due to the unavailability of product and / or labor needed to produce that product. It has been a hard fifteen months we have experienced being closed up in our bubbles of protection and yeah, we learned some lessons along the way, both good and bad. However, COVID-19 will for some time have to be that thing that we keep on the burner for a while.

Easing back into the community independently will take some time for me, but I know that I will get there. COVID has caused a setback in this area, among other things. However, I hardly fail at anything that I set my mind on and I am sure that I will overcome this just as I have at whatever challenges that have been presented in front of me. The sky is the limit and there’s no turning back.

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