Surviving Lockdown, coping with Autism.
Lockdown 2020 Written by Rebecca Morland,
Coping with Autism in lockdown: What has lockdown 2020 got me doing? Well basically this, writing my daily blogs on Facebook and also my weekly blog on my website. My thoughts for the week on Coping with Autism in lockdown.
Many people with autism find that part of their diagnosis involves restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities, or interests. For example; eating the same foods or keeping to set times and places throughout the day. With these routines thrown completely out of whack, this can cause so many more things such as anxiety and distress, much more so than for your neurotypical person.
As a parent, Coping with Autism in lockdown.
If your a parent of an autistic child, you’ll potentially have already seen the effects of school closures and routine changes in your littles ones – I know I certainly have! This sudden unexpected change and disruption to everyday life is particularly hard for autistic children and adults. A cancelled appointment, closed parks, empty shelves in shops, or closed coffee shops can be so much more than an inconvenience, and now add on the new laws of having to wear a face mask when materials and smells can already cause an issue alone, all this could trigger so much stress and anxiety which in turn leads to an intense meltdown or even a shut down.
What are shutdowns and meltdowns?
Shutdowns are a muted response to all those feelings, when this happens it can cause an autistic person become completely silent and withdrawn, when this happens you may see the person unable to actually physically move or the complete polar opposite and need to remove themselves completely to a quiet place with no one around. A meltdown is more physical and can include screaming, shouting and lashing out at themselves and others. Both of these responses are so upsetting for both the parent witnessing what is happening and feeling totally helpless as well as the child/adult dealing with it, so to keep these situations to a minimum…and having lived through this for the past 5 months, my personal advice is:
What has worked for us and may work for you too,
1. Make a special sensory place, somewhere in your home that is accessible at all times.
2. STAY CALM, adjusting to the new world is difficult for the best of us and it won’t stay at its worst forever, after every storm there is a rainbow, you just have to wait for that storm to pass over, it will get better.
3. Try and find the NEW routine, this could be as simple as keeping the normal routine of getting up, having breakfast, brushing teeth etc but is there anything you can do next that is part of your ‘new’ routine for the foreseeable. The more you can make of the new routine I have found has passed the days with minimal stress.
KEEP REASSURING THEM. Coping with Autism in lockdown.
4. When talking to your child about what is currently happening, work out what they NEED to know, sometimes ignorance is bliss, and having too much too think about can cause all of the above, so keep information to a minimum but always be prepared to answer questions, they will still pick up on certain conversations or hear things through friends, KEEP REASSURING THEM.
5. Make sure you have any sensory aids to hand! with all the overwhelming stuff going on, things they could usually tolerate they may now not be able to, for example a simple walk and now suddenly the noise of passing cars is just too much to cope with, in this situation headphones or ear defenders might come in handy, or fidget toys, again going outside has now become a scary place, people look different, a sensory toy as simple as an elastic band can calm their nerves.
6. Remember to take 5 minutes for yourself, children pick up on the vibes we give up and I especially find with mine they take their queues from my body language, for example, if I’m already feeling stressed about the day I can usually feel my shoulders rising to basically my ear lobes and they will pick up on that vibe even if they don’t understand it or can’t intemperate it, use those 5 minutes to just come back down to neutral and carry on with the day.
What can you do? Coping with Autism in lockdown.
In the same way communities are pulling together to support each other during lockdown by helping with shopping or just being a friendly voice on a phone during this unprecedented crisis, I would encourage everyone to find out about autism and to consider how coronavirus is affecting autistic people and how they can help. There are things we can all do, including communicating clearly and giving people time to respond, the world has slowed down and now we need to slow down with it, we have a bit more time to find out about these things, there is no such thing as too much knowledge and understanding.
Just as an extra,
Annnnnd if this wasn’t enough I’ve also started my side business of making bottle lamps, woohoo because clearly I have all the time in the world haha, I may complain but I am very excited about it, and to top it off I’ve learnt how to use a drill and connect everything all together so the light actually works – always a bonus really, anyway that enough of me rabbiting on, hope everyones having a great day.
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