Staying afloat

Ishanya Foundation, Bengaluru, a Centre for Individuals with Special Needs, shares the lockdown perspective of a parent, Shwetha Srivathsan, along with “Life during COVID-19” art work of their students

The summer of 2020 has been a summer to remember. It has brought to fore a thought that has remained in the minds of most parents of people with autism – crisis does not come with a prior appointment. 

Art work by Sowmiya

As parents and caregivers,  we strive to bring in structure, predictability and routine in the lives of our children, so they can live to the best of their abilities. Do they have it in them to deal with crisis, unpredictability and drastic change?

When reality is crazier than fiction
COVID19 is what I would like to term as an “abstract” crisis. A crisis, like having a fracture because of a fall is easier to put in perspective since it is right there and experienced personally. How do we explain this overnight change to our children?

Art work by Ramam

Well, there is the internet, news channels and newspapers, but does my daughter understand that this is reality and not fiction? Here, at the end of the third phase of lockdown, after the” I do not understand this change and I am scared” ship has sailed, I realise that our children are a lot more resilient than we care to give them credit for.

We are family
So what is life like for a person with sensory issues to be cooped 24/7 in a 1700 square feet space that we call home – with two adults, one preschooler and two seniors? A sensory roller coaster!!!.

But that is what being a family is all about, learning to accept and deal with each other’s quirks and behaviours and still loving each other at the end of the day. What does not kill you makes you stronger and I hope that just like the rest of us, my daughter too has emerged a stronger person.

Online Classes- an attempt at continuity
My daughter has been a part of a few online classes-some group and others one-on-one. Like with everything that is new, there has been a learning curve. The best part about traversing the learning curve is that there is movement and growth and that is a huge positive.

Art work by Akhil

One of the first thoughts that occurred to me when the lockdown was announced was that here I was, socially distanced from people, with restrictions to go out and severe anxiety about something as simple as a sneeze or cough. Isn’t that what life is like for people with autism?

While, we talk of masks and face shields – isn’t autism an iron curtain between a person and her environment? This is a thought that the stressed out parent in me would want to hold on to, the next time I am on the verge of losing my patience.

So here’s hoping that we all get to go out of our homes and meet each other personally at the end of lockdown 4.0. Until then, stay safe!!

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