Monday 6 April 2020

To those flouting the rules during the coronavirus pandemic from a mum with autistic kids

We all know the rules. Just ask my 11 year old autistic son. He loves rules. Rules keep his life in order. Rules keep the world safe; rules keep him safe.  When people don't follow the rules, he worries.  But it's not because of his feelings that I'm asking you to stay home, it's because of our lives.
It may be the Easter holidays and the kids are off school - but it's not normal is it.

Many families with autistic kids or kids with special educational needs struggle during holidays.  The routines that the children rely on to function are all gone and it's not always easy to establish new ones.

Generally we have coped by changing our environment to help our family adapt.  Introducing new ideas at home is virtually impossible. This is because the routines at home are so established it's hard for them to cope without them.  Adapting is not always possible. Doing school work at home makes no sense for my autistic kids - work is for school, not home.

We take care and find a place we can go that is safe, where we can keep some of the regular routine we have at home and where we can encourage the kids to expand their horizons in some way.  Last year we took our non-verbal autistic eight year old son, David, ziplining across the Canadian Rockies.  Something a few years ago I never thought possible.

It won't be possible this year.  Going to any of the places we usually go isn't possible.

We can't go to see any of the grandparents.  It's not safe.

We can't go to our favourite cabins in the forest.  It's not safe.

We can't catch a flight anywhere. It's not safe.

And some of the things I fall back on when we can't go anywhere, we can't do either.  It's not safe.

About a seven minute walk from our home is an open park.  My eldest thinks it's funny that you can fit Vatican City into the park three times - we love facts and if you don't know Vatican City is the smallest country in the world.

But we can't visit it.

We can't go because when we go we usually visit a playground that's at one end of the park.  This playground is closed.  It's not safe.

But David, who managed to zip line, doesn't understand this.  All he knows is that; he is at the park and so he should visit the playground. In fact it's almost part of his sensory requirements. David's body interacts with the world differently and his system needs to be moved.  He can spin continuously on some of the equipment for 20 minutes when most kids can't do 20 seconds. And this resets his body.

So, not only can we not go out to the park, but he can't get this need met.

And this is just one example of one routine that would involve us doing something against the current rules.  Stay home.

So we stay home. My kids struggle. Sometimes they are violent; towards me or towards each other as they try so reset their bodies and how they feel.

Sometimes I can't get what they eat at the supermarket.  So because of their restricted diets and routine... they might not eat.

Still we follow the rules. Because only by doing this will the pandemic end sooner.  And that's what we and many people need.

Those who can't work, need it to end as soon as possible.

Those who can't get the care they need, need it to end as soon as possible.

Those who have dangers in their home they can't escape, need it to end as soon as possible.

For these people who may be struggling right now, the return to normality is the only cure.

And of course, those who could become infected and die if it goes on, need it to end as soon as possible.

And those who flout the rules are extending this wait. Going out may not mean you get sick.  But you may just transfer the virus onto something... that transfers onto something... that gets someone else sick.  That puts a bigger stress on our system. That makes the pandemic go on longer and makes the recovery slower.

Of course I do have to leave the house for the necessary reasons. I could pick up the virus and I don't know how my beautiful kids could cope with it is they did get seriously ill.  David has been to hospital a few times.  It is horrific. Talk about the unfamiliar.

Please help us get back to normal as soon as possible.  Please don't go out during what would usually be a time for sunbathing, driving to scenic areas for a sit or having a picnic!  Boost your mental health at home, open a window, listen to the sounds around you, draw, boxset, call your friends, whatever you like at home... and take pride in how you are protecting us all.

Thank you.


  1. It's interesting how people have processed it here. The kids and I went into NZ lockdown (much stricter), my husband is doing what is 'allowed' (our govt has allowed you to exercise with 1 person etc - my kids and I see no one out of the house) and then apparently people were playing touch footy in the park in Australia, I suspect it's good luck more than good management that our numbers are low. We are counting down the active cases and hoping some sort of normal can safely return! Take care and I hope the stress of it all goes away for you, until the whole lockdown goes away for you...#KCACOLS

  2. Its so frustrating seeing and reading the opinions of those that just don't seem to get it. I work at a hospital and can tell you that 'flattening the curve" is a real thing and we are all appreciative of those that are helping to make that happen #KCACOLS

  3. Poor kiddos. I'm so sorry. The inconsiderate people are making harder on everyone. Stay safe, and here's to hoping that life can get back to some semblance of normal soon. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

  4. Thanks so much for the reminder. I'm autistic too and definitely struggle. However, I think we owe it to each other to follow the rules. #KCACOLS

  5. It amazes me how much some people are just ignoring the importance of the lockdown. #KCACOLS

  6. People have generally been very good where we are - there's always one who thinks the rules don't apply to them though! #KCACOLS

  7. It is really worrying how quickly people have started to socialise again I fear we are heading for another lockdown. It is so frustrating watching people not follow the law and think it doesn't apply! #SpectrumSunday


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