By Cathy Jameson
For some people, this Coronavirus quarantine hasn’t been easy. Thinking the very worst, they’ve gone into panic mode. Some have even gone panic-shopping and left grocery store shelves bare. Thankfully, our pantry was looking fine when we heard that schools, businesses and life as we knew it would be shutting down. I haven’t calculated what we’d need if the quarantine is extended, but I think we have enough supplies to last us a little bit longer than the average family. Knowing that is a comfort. The fact that we’ve offered to share what we have has been a comfort to others.
Something else that I’m finding some comfort in is the fact that we are home. This school year has been our busiest. When I heard that other states had already told people to stay home, I was all for taking a time out from every-day life. That would give me the chance to stop, breathe, and stay away from the masses. They might not feel the same way, but I’m thrilled that my entire family has to stay home also. Usually, we’re ‘hit the ground running’ kind of people. We have to be. Having 4 typical children, and a child who has medical issues that come with autism and vaccine injury, has us up and out the door plenty of times during a normal week. With life now in slowdown mode, I am taking stock in what’s most important in life: my family.
Family truly makes my world go round. Everyone in it and everything about it is important to me. What’s most important to me these days, besides maintaining a positive outlook, is keeping us healthy and also keeping Ronan healthy. We’ve heard that the complications he already faces could worsen. Maintaining his health has always been a number one priority for all of us. It’s even more important these days.
Keeping Ronan home this week hasn’t been hard like it may be for other families who have children with autism. Social isolation has been a way of life for a long time for us. Ronan’s gained some great people skills, thanks mostly to his siblings who encourage him to join them when they have fun events to go to. But public places can be a bit overwhelming. They can be for Ronan, and sometimes, they can be for our entire family. Ronan doesn’t tolerate stores. He doesn’t like to sit quietly at church. He doesn’t want to go to the park. He doesn’t care to be out in the world socializing and being around others like the rest of us like to. Rarely does he shy away from his siblings, but he will sometimes take a break from all the energy they bring into the house. We know that Ronan needs his space, and we respect that.
While it may have interrupted their routines, having all the siblings home during the day has offered more social opportunities to Ronan than other days.
It isn’t just social opportunities Ronan’s being exposed to. The typical siblings are participating in eLearning. Ronan’s watching them organize themselves as they manage their own school routine. He’s listening to their academic challenges, and he’s quietly learning alongside them – even if he, and they, don’t yet realize it.
People have asked me this week how Ronan is doing and also how we are handling things. Even only a few short days in, I think it’s going pretty well! Ronan is happy. We’re all staying healthy. The kids have taken to eLearning like champs! I’m thankful for the connectivity and the creativity of each of their teachers. I know it hasn’t been easy for schools to transform their brick-and-mortar existence to an electronic-only platform, but I have no complaints. I’m truly pleased with how everyone in my home jumped to with the changes. There were a few minor glitches but nothing stopped them in their tracks. They kept plugging along and did so with minimal complaint. I think they did well because they’re so used to adapting to life and to life with autism.
Autism has taught us a quite a few things over the years. How to be prepared. How to expect the unexpected. How to appreciate what we have. How to socially distance ourselves at a moment’s notice. How to walk away from what doesn’t work. I’m very grateful for those skills during these past odd days. I’m also grateful for the extra family time we will have over the next few weeks. Thankfully, none of us has snapped or stomped away into our own corner of the house yet. Sure we miss the outside world, but I, for one am enjoying every minute of every isolation day we’ve been blessed to have. Being home and away from work, school, and society in general is not a bad thing. It may not be the best way to live, especially for my children who are extroverts. But we adapt.
We rethink what we have to.
We revamp what we can.
We build new skills.
We change our attitudes.
And we work with what’s been placed in front of us. Each situation we’ve faced as a family in the past, we’ve gotten through it. Sometimes with emotions and sometimes without. I’m not fearing the coronavirus nor the circumstances we’re in. Forced social distancing helped me slow down and be more present. It’s also allowed me to clean up a few rooms and closets, too! Honestly, with how busy life had gotten, this quarantine is exactly what my heart and mind needed. I hope it’s brought a few moments of peace into your home as well.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.