Everyone in this country, and in most places around the world, are now faced with an unprecedented situation of either being at home, having your kids at home, and dealing with an alarming amount of new information, some of of concerning to say the least. My situation is no better or worse than anyone else’s, but having two children with Autism and anxiety disorders and the owner of an anxiety disorder myself, sometimes it’s hard to stay calm and not worry about what’s going on around me.
Chances are high, or increasing, that your child’s school is closed or will be soon. Interrupting routines and making sudden, drastic changes are a recipe for disaster sometimes when it comes to an autistic child. For many in this crisis, routines for the adults don’t change, yet now the children are faced with weeks at home and the advice to not go out. My children are older now, so I don’t have the challenge of trying to find day care and other options for them, but I can only imagine what it would have been like for me “back in the day”.
You can almost feel the palpable panic when you go out and about, and obviously you can see it when you look at the shelves and see everything gone. Watching the world turn into the “survival of the fittest” is a bit scary and I don’t see much cooperation, kindness and empathy these days. I see it when I try to look for it from time to time, but there’s a singularity developing among us. I live in a super high population area, so this is one of those times when I wish I lived in a more rural setting, but for now, that remains a future goal. In the meantime, I am doing what I can to keep myself and my family healthy and safe and reassure my kids that it’s going to be okay.
If you need guidelines or suggestions on talking with your children during this time, the CDC has a great page with topics here. Sometimes when we plan on a quality conversation, we forget steps or concepts when we too are stressed and worried. So, the page is there if you need it. Kids who were recently at school, watching unedited videos from multiple social media sites that could easily contain false information and other conversations with friends can easily wind up with a host of false and misleading information. Issues like hearing that garlic, Vitamin C or other treatments can prevent, cure or otherwise assist during this time are false and could lead to unnecessary exposure. Talk to your children about the symptoms of COVID-19 and make sure they know to tell you if they aren’t feeling well. Specifics tips for the Autism and disability community can be found here.
With allergies, other colds and flu going around, seeing and hearing other people cough and sneeze can bring about social anxiety. Some children with Autism might make a comment in public about it like, “I thought coughing was a sign of the virus!”. Making sure that you reassure your children that not everyone who has a cough or sneeze is a cause for worry can help, but kids will be kids! I was out yesterday and my allergies are starting to come out and they are as horrible as they usually are in March. So, sneezing was something I was trying to suppress while I was out. It’s an odd feeling. People have a new awareness about them that is valid. We are constantly being told to use social distancing and to avoid being too close, so seeing someone starting to cough or sneeze naturally gets you looks!
I have friends who are, in the eyes of what officials are saying, defying common sense practices and still going to bars, crowded restaurants and the like. It’s truly not my place to judge them, but I do wonder what the rationalization is. I get it. NO ONE likes to be stuck inside, except maybe for introverts like me lol. However, even I like to get out and get errands done, go on day trips, go to garage sales and flea markets etc, so the concept of not being able to go anywhere makes me want to go somewhere! My kids however, are looking to me for examples to emulate, and if I go out and about to bars (which I don’t) and spend time in crowded malls and restaurants, how am I going to get the point across? So, I don’t because first and foremost, I don’t want to, but secondly, I want to set a good example. I have a few underlying medical conditions and I am over 50 now, so I am trying to be responsible with my own health and of those around me.
This lengthy and highly detailed chart from the CDC’s daily update from yesterday (and is updated daily) shows all the latest statistics and numbers for those who are keeping up with things. I don’t share this with my kids during our chats of reassurance, because I don’t want to alarm them. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is best if you don’t continuously check the statistics because while it will keep you VERY up to date, it might raise your stress levels. Checking in from time to time with news and updates I find brings me the most benefit. I get it though; we are bombarded with it on a continuous basis lately and it seems to be the only topic of conversation with everyone too.
Lots of people are talking about fun activities to do with your kids and family while you are stuck inside with closed schools. This site has a lot of great ideas that I might use myself. My youngest has asked about making/cooking a few things now that we have time. I read constantly, but my kids so far have not taken it up as I would like, so I pick my battles! We all game often, so there is that going on, and thankfully, my daughter has a great group of friends she chats with online, so she’s still out there, if only spending virtual time with friends. It’s a good thing! My kid’s birthdays are all coming up soon and I feel bad that I can’t make definitive plans, but if we are stuck here, I will find ways to make it fun. I know she is most excited about being able to sleep in on weekdays; teens! Our routines might be changed for a while, but we can still have fun and make the best of things. I wish everyone health, safety and calm always, but especially now.
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