What Coronavirus has taught me about my behaviors

Rewind to March 16. We were living life in a new uncertainty. After six weeks of being off of work due to personal reasons, I was called the night before by my supervisor and was told that we’d be scheduled off with pay for the next few weeks.

I still had my clubhouse where we were briefed on so social distancing and how interact. The changes in our activities. We went on with our day.

Then that evening we got the word. The clubhouse too would be closed for at least two weeks.

We were left with nothing but guidance and support but we had to play it out. 

Two weeks were almost gone when we learned that Clubhouse Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services would be provided virtually. Work was being prepared to be done remotely with changes in hours.

So we started. At w which point stay at home orders were put in place for our county. We stayed home. My family is part of the #stayhometeam . We did as the officials said, limited our trips into the community to a few times a week. Of  which I began to notice some habits. I was (as when I was on my own) consuming a boatload of soda and overeating vigorously. But in other cases I wasn’t hoarding excessively or overspending like I was prior.

However I would think that I was okay but my mental health was declining.

I was addicted to the soda to the point where I would consume a case in a few days. This would cause arguments with my parents on several occasions about my consumption in excessively high amounts and that I was killing myself slowly by doing this. 

But of course I know everything, right?

No I didn’t listen. 

Then the Economic Impact Payment came. I’ve stowed it away safely and haven’t touched any of it (So proud!) I would say that the Coronavirus has helped me be more cognizant of not spending money on useless stuff that has very little value. That saving money is sound and good thing to do. It and the several trips to stores of all kinds that was occurring pre Coronavirus was helping me understand why it’s important to value what you REALLY enjoy want and treasure and that it seriously doesn’t matter how many possessions you do have. What matters is what you value about you and what makes you happy.

As far as dining out since it has been restricted to carry out only. I know that the only chains I visited was Dominos like 5 times in I over 2 months and a Subway once where before the Coronavirus each visit came with a 2-liter bottle of soda (no more!) And a large fountain drink respectively (Still had one but it was my only soda for the DAY…we’ll get to this later in the post)

Then there were the daily visits to McDonald’s, which since March 16, 2020 haven’t been in. Prior to that I had breakfast several times a week, a and always with a large fountain drink but this has been helping my health.

A few weeks ago, I met a new doctor who ordered me some standard labs. I within a few hours received a phone call from the doctors office expecting bad news due to the phone call being sudden. However I learned that only my thyroid level was not so great and that all other levels were really good. So Kudos to me for doing this. was feel better too!

Now to the soda consumption. I have drastically reduced my soda intake to one per day we go into town. This sums up to 2-3 bottles of diet soda a week (16-20 ounces x 3= 48-60 a week) instead of over 100 fluid ounces A DAY (700 fluid ounces At least a week prior!) Now this O do admit has been a drastic reduction in sugar and I do substitute it with a gallon of iced tea over that span 2-3 days and a day or two of chocolate milk. Now these aren’t then best two substitutes but they fulfill some void and they are more natural and support the local farmers (woo hoo!) 

As far as the food department it does need some improvement as many including those close to me and many others are struggling with this too! This is my next focus for me. I was watching My 600 pound life recently and seen alot of people of size and how they struggle including one who cut out all the sweet stuff and was working on portion control and being active.That’s what I need regularity in and not spur of the moment decisions involving poor food choices. 

All in all I’m proud of the changes I’ve had made this far! Here’s to more!

Autism Being Stigmatized

With it being Mental Health Awareness Month nationally,  my day program for their weekly newsletter we were asked to give our opinion on the changes of stigma. While it has good and bad points, the autism community has its points also.
I have came across several disturbing points of misconception of Autism.

1. Family Guy mocking an autistic being unable to verbally communicate.

I’ve been a Family Guy fan since the first season almost twenty years ago and I do admit they push the boundaries alot of the time. It’s been a hotbed of debate. They were off a few years after season 3 but returned years later. The line continued to be pushed and I know if you don’t like it don’t watch it. That is a belief that I value dearly. However, when autistics are generalized, it hurts.

I recently came across a Facebook Watch video of dark special needs jokes of Family Guy. I thought I would have an look as Peter has memory clips he says that he was scared like the time he Sat next to the autistic person in the doctors office. The clip shows the autistic vocally stimming.

He was scared. I was done.

I admit I get scared sometimes about autistics that stim loudly or how to interact with them. I know that they can’t hurt me and they just want to get their point across just as much as I do. However, when you generalize the autistic community in those few seconds, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I know, I knew what I was getting into, but it just is a gross misrepresentation of the community. I do recall an early episode where his doctor diagnoses him as the R word, now a word no longer used (thank God) Nonetheless, it’s appalling because there so ones that are classified as such and are amazing people, regardless of their ability. Which moves us into the next misconception.

2. Being known as the R word or Developentally Disabled.

The R word is one I absolutely can’t stand. Prior to 2008 it was known as that. Those given that classification and some still live and endured the agony of being called it, being diagnosed it. Until a few decades ago the media used it like a household name, its just wrong and when I hear that word. It makes me ill.

Autism is a neurological condition, not specifically a physical or mental disability. Nonetheless, it’s classified in the DSM under the Developental disorders. Yes it can be coupled with other Developmental disabilities, but with the coupling as one Autism spectrum disorder, it’s misconceived as a development defect, which is not true for all autistics.A spectrum is just that. It’s a wide variety of symptoms and flaws. Myself I am proud of my Aspergers and fortunate enough to have the ability to inherit the diagnosis, the new diagnosis does a huge disservice to autistics that could have been diagnosed with Aspergers after it was coupled. Yes he was discounted for his works and beliefs and other information, it opened a door to a community for twenty years that made us feel better. We are not inferior to levels of ability, however we have a multitude of issues some similar and some not to the autistic community as a whole. It just doesn’t make sense. 

In many U.S. States and territories funding streams for autism are placed under the Developentally Disability arm of human services, again another disservice to the autism community because I personally feel with those of all ages receiving diagnoses services will grow and need to be more centralized. We shouldn’t be looked as less than others in any case we should be valued members of the community.

3. The belief that all autistics are heterosexual.

Recently, I read a blog from a prominent autistic that stated that one of the nations leading autism advocacy groups vehemently denies that 70% of autistics are not heterosexual. Now I know this will spark debate but I think it has to be acknowledged. Its the reason why many autistics debate and sometimes protest against the prominent advocacy organizations. It’s not sunshine and rainbows (for them), it’s not the picture they want to portray the picture perfect autistic. Until just this year, one of the largest organizations accepted that autistics don’t grow out of it and started to feature adults in campaigns. They are believers in ABA (think what you want) which has it’s pros and cons. 

You simply can’t be forced to identify yourself as something you hate being or trying to block something you really like because you are brainwashed to think one way but you absolutely feel the polar opposite. If we give autistics and others the freedom who they want to be, they should be allowed to so while being educated properly and in their terms what is appropriate and what isn’t. Sexual education, while essentially non existent in the special education realm needs to be taught or.advocated for,.again in their terms they they can understand..They have rights we should honor their wishes. Yes it has a great deal of issues but there’s helps and resources there.

4. The Tik Tok Autistic Challenge

Yesterday I saw a autistic professional speaker highlight this and I’m appalled.He shares my sentiment that it seriously sends the wrong message to youth that it’s ok for mocking the autistic community. We are autistics that are valued members of the community not to be mocked on the latest social media marketing strategy. It needs to stop and moderation must be taken to the fullest extent permitted. 

Where going to the next level, but nothing’s changing

So another week has came and gone. Last Friday, our State Government announced that effective this Friday morning we will be moving to the Yellow phase of the reopening plan for the reopening plan. However, not much in what was considered my regular routine will continue to exist. I have came to terms that if I do return to an independent setting in the new phase, I will indeed struggle and will absolutely relapse, without a doubt. My parents have been very accommodating by allowing me to stay with them through these trying times, and indeed they have been. They’ve offered me to continue staying here as they know right now it’s to my benefit to do so.

Now I don’t want to deny that in the so called “New Normal” that I will be able to manage, just in these uncertain times I need regularity and additional supports because most of what’s in my routine has been slipped away and even though in my prior routine I did take a day off from work and programming every week sometimes I did struggle.I personally feel that it’s best for me to continue to follow the present routine.

The media does push our government for the guidelines for the next phase, honestly no one in the world has the answer. There’s no vaccine or cure at this point for Covid 19 and there won’t be for some time and it has to be tested and pass through all the regulatory channels before being produced en masse. Nor is there a cute because no one is sure where it came from either.Essentially, it will take some time for either to occur. There’s also uncertainty about a second round of the virus returning this fall, thus restarting the whole process from the start

Coming back round circle to me, I am extremely anxious when going out in public. I do my part faithfully by physically distancing a following our state mandate of wearing a mask, but I get frustrated when others do not practice these new norms. Furthermore, even when stores place barriers and signage up, it is for a reason in order to ensure that we as customers are safe along with the masking and physically distancing. For me to.cross paths with another customer in an aisle going in the wrong direction, flying around me in a rush, not keeping their distance at a cashier stand or not even following the masking mandate not only irritates me but makes me fearful of my safety.

Yesterday was the first time in just shy of two months that I’ve had take out other than pizza. I visited the Subway in our Wal-Mart which like all restaurants is not allowing customers to dine in. I was astonished how clean and the safeguards taken for our safety like not leaving things out like straws, napkins,drink cups, etc. However when a customer takes a chair from atop a table because it’s placed that way for a reason, likewise this was occurring during my turn in line and it did distract me immensely as did the employees. It may have been innocent, but people across the country have been protesting against the restrictions, and I think to the point of obsession with this could be like the Woolworth protest during the civil rights movement, although it was peaceful protest, recent ones have been dangerous. Additionally as I was exiting the store using the designated exit process which required me to enter the store and then turn around and exit, upon exiting, a gentleman without a mask enters the store using the designated exit, nearly brushing up against me. He was scolded for his actions by the attendant who tallies the occupancy of the store. 

Now I know that some people may think it is obsession, but for the average autistic this is a additional topping to the challenge of doing my part to be safe along with tolerating a confining mask, therefore I feel that I am doing my part to protect them even though I have been healthy. I don’t want to come across as presuming everyone I brush into could be carrying the Coronavirus. Its just the simple fact that I am healthy and am doing my part as a member of the community, I just wish those that don’t comply had the same consideration for themselves as I do. Not only is it a “rule” , I just know for me being any stage of ill is no picnic at best, so I feel it is to my benefit to follow the advice of government officials. I don’t particularly like wearing a mask because it constrcts my ability to vocalize properly and it does hamper my breathing among other things, but I compromise and do it because it’s the best thing to keep myself and others safe.

My weight has been unchanged from being at home, however I have been drastically reducing.my soda intake over the past few weeks going from buying at least a case of soda a week to only having a few individual bottles a week. Now I do enjoy my sweet tea on a regular basis by getting my so called “twins” ( two half gallons) at the Wal-Mart each week. Sometimes I do indulge in chocolate milk but in smaller amounts.
Back  to the situation at hand. I have gradually become cognizant of my need to be with my family during this period of uncertainty.  They are diligent in reminding to perform normal tasks such as laundry and cleanup of the areas in their house I use. They have got me medicating again routinely, something I’ve been ill managing for over a year before committing them to following their directive. They make sure that I am awake when I need to be and being where I need to be when I need to be. I have realized that I need to be more consistent with my personal hygiene as many individuals that are on the spectrum are having trouble with as well so it makes me feel better that I’m not the only one that is struggling with this and I need regularity for now. However,everyone is struggling with the great deal of uncertainty right now so I feel that I will manage my present had I’m dealt with right now and see it as an opportunity to adult and grow.

Still Ordered to Stay at Home

Well we’re still in the red here in Pennsylvania this week and planning to be for at least two more weeks, if not more. Our region is predicted to go to yellow (precautionary) at that point. However, it has come to my attention that several items in place like teleworking, curbside pickup, delivery, etc. Will still occur in many instances. 

I’ve been reading recent articles in the local newspapers about capacity at the local hospitals and officials state that because more than likely people are following recommendations by government officials I why case numbers are lower than predicted. 

So i in a way sadly I am content with the way things are at least right now. I do miss my colleagues and friends and the way things were before the coronavirus. I’m not downplaying that we should keep th is way for ever, not at all. People lost their jobs; my mentors, my van driver, family members, the list goes on and on. People are sick, really bad weather and seriously it scares me because I don’t want it. With a simple illness, I’m a bear. I couldn’t imagine having the coronavirus could make me be. I would rather play it safe and be healthy than be susceptible to something dangerous.

This pandemic has also divided party lines greatly. lawmakers feel like we need to reopen but as evidenced by other states, it causes a spike in cases. So I feel out government officials are airing on the side of caution in that regard. The only issue with government is the unemployment process and with the overtaxed system that needs a major overhaul.

Anyway, if we want out of the red so speak we must continue to do what is necessary to flatten the curve, then we must follow the advice of government officials. I was told by my e employment supports that when we do return to out facility, we will see changes similar to that in a grocery store like shields, directional control, etc. Virtual attendance is preferred over actual which will be limited and transportation may not occur for some time, let alone masking, gloves, temporal scans, etc. Anyway, I will prepare for those changes when it’s time to.

Almost Six Weeks Later, Still here waiting for the Yellow Light to go to the next step

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.

Sacrificing For Those we Care About

First of all, please forgive me, for not writing for a while. I, like many other autistics are dealing with the struggles of a stay at home order in a unfamiliar environment due to the Coronavirus. I will elaborate on that in another post.

The main reason I had an inkling on returning to the blog to write is because for several decades of my upbringing, I continually struggled with sacrificing for others although I may not like it. This very issue has been a hotbed of discussion between myself and my parents, more so since I have been staying with them for some time now. Unfortunately my home was having repairs and is again ready, however the Coronavirus has put a delay on me having some essential furniture moved in, so I am in a holding pattern until our state government reduces the stay-at home order.

With that being said, My parents do not think that I am grateful for their multitude of perceived ungratefulness has brought up several dis pleasures in their household. The main catalyst is that for several years growing up while running the acronym gamut of diagnoses as a child, most of the attention of my parents was given on myself. As such relationships not only between my parents and my sister and my parents had struggles at one point or another because so much attention was paid on me. Even after being diagnosed, for some years until early adulthood, no one totally understood the whole Asperger’s thing and alot of times in a rural area such as ours, they didn’t have a clue that it related even to Autism.

Nonetheless, as I somewhat matured over the years in my adolescence and my adulthood. I had several professionals, including my psychotherapist who I continue to have today since shortly being diagnosed continue to press the issue that I had a sense of entitlement. I continued for several years until I hit rock bottom a few weeks ago had a real grip of what that was and how it effects others. I seen it play out in several professional and personal relationships when I didn’t get what I wanted I would and still do to a point manifest a “poor me” attitude by driving negative thoughts in myself and acting it out on others oftentimes my parents. More recently it has with a culprit of a stay at home order has brought the need to fix one of my few remaining flaws.

Now to my parents, as many autistics have difficulty expressing feelings to to others is often the case. With me, if the moment strikes right, It will manifest itself in a proper fashion. For example, One night earlier this week before retiring for bed, I bantered out at my mother “I hate you!” She asked my why I would say something like that out of the blue. I simply did not know. She reacted by saying that in the 60 some years her parents were alive, she had never said that to her own parents. And I admired her parents (my grandparents) A LOT! They took my defense and I think they worried about me more than my parents did. She also asked what if she didn’t wake up in her sleep that night, how would I feel?

As I got into bed that night, I had some difficulty sleeping as it comes and goes. However, later I would burst into tears wondering WHAT IF, something happens to her?, WHAT IF that was the last word?, HOW WOULD I move on? Anyway, the next morning, I had a telehealth session with my therapist, which I do like under the circumstances (I’ll discuss this in a later post.) The situation and I would break out in tears. Also, before that appointment, my father had asked me for his assistance later that day, something I always have disliked. We talked about that like the two or three weeks before about making sacrifices for our family, friends and close ones and even if we don’t like it how rewarding it can be to ourselves as well as make them feel good too. Anyway this week I committed to making that change. Unfortunately, it would take some time to prove my thoughts because it would rain and those plans would change.

So we fast forward to 8 hours ago when I got up. It was one of those nights of having a watch party on Facebook, meaning I would get to sleep late. As I got up, the landline phone in the house would ring. As its never a human being, I would learn that my father would require my assistance. Just getting out of bed, I would be a little grumpy, but I would learn to move on and do as he would ask. As I was doing this very simple task (manning a farm gate), I would see some awes of nature that I deeply regretted having my camera for the “Kodak Moments”

Returning to the house, I felt the need to wash my bedclothes without prompts (a first), then as I would put them into the washer for them to run its cycle and upon completion of it. I would discover a load of bath towels that my parents would have placed in the dryer. Normally, I would have pulled them out of the dryer and walked away after doing what I would need to do (thinking about myself). However, I would not only take them out AND fold the towels (the way my parents taught me at a very young age), BUT I would carry them to the linen closet and put them away. I was proud and my parents were proud.

See, listening in therapy pays off and using those skills even more.

The Uncertainties Ahead

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.

Bread Aisle
Potato Bins

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.  )
  5. 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!
  6. 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!