Many Autistic people thrive on routine. Bear is usually one of those so I assumed he would struggle without them. Surprisingly, Bear has reacted quite well to the changing routines that have come with COVID-19 lockdowns.
First Lockdown Fears
In WA, we have been very lucky and had minimal lockdowns.
When we had the first lockdown, there was talk of it lasting 6 months, I remember calling my parents in the UK in tears because the thought of being locked up with a hyperactive bear terrified me.
Thankfully, that first lockdown didn’t last 6 months and, living in WA there is so much space, we were able to find plenty of places for our outdoor time.
It “may” have been a tad longer than our allotted hour, but when there is no one else around, why would we rush home to the confines of the house.
Very early morning walks at the local oval.
We managed to fit in plenty of outdoor time.
Online was a No-Go
We tried online school. Bear’s school created online platforms for the kids to submit work we could download first. There were regular Zoom meetings where the teacher would read stories. He was able to sit through some of it, but as he compartmentalises his life, he found it very hard to do schoolwork at home.
Telehealth was attempted for his therapy sessions. His speech therapist set up a session with him on his iPad. I tried to get him to sit down and listen, but he quickly became very upset and he became the most violent towards me than he has ever been in his entire life.
His therapist saw this and quickly shut down the session. The benefit of having all his therapists coming from Down South Therapy, she was able to make the call that Bear needed face-to-face sessions to continue and he was a priority for all his therapists. They continued to come to the house during lockdown. There were a few changes which he did struggled with a bit.
For example, he is a very touch-based bear. Not surprising when you understand he is a deep pressure sensory seeker. When they had to insist on some distance between him and them, he didn’t really understand and would still scoot over to them. He was so used to being able to sit up close, lean against them or even sit on their knee (not so much anymore as he is getting so big now!), his comprehension of not being able to even touch them just didn’t click.
Witnessing this with my Bear meant that when we next saw his paediatrician, I was not surprised when he said that many of his autistic patients did not cope well with telehealth appointments. The popular ideology that all autistic people are introverts is being shown more and more to be false and my Bear is the perfect example of that.
Other than these few changes, he coped very well with his lack of routine. He did ask why he wasn’t going to school, but he was ok with not going. I will admit there was a fair bit of screen time with either his iPad or the TV, but he has never been a couch potato with his screen time.
In fact, he is very active even when watching TV. The TV is regularly abandoned so that they can act out whatever they have just watched. Bluey is regularly re-enacted which is one reason I love that show. If you haven’t seen it, please do yourself a favour, no matter what your age is and watch it!
I was a little nervous when it was time to go back to school. Grateful! But worried about another change in his routine, even if it was back to “normal”.
? How would he cope with the extra handwashing and sanitising that was needed?
? How would he cope with seeing most of the adults with face masks on?
? How would he cope with the limited people he could interact with at playtime?
Yet again, my Bear surprised me, and I think most people at school when he walked in on that first day back as if he had never been away. Straight back into his normal school routine. Perfectly happy with sanitising his hands regularly. In fact, he and Frog remind me to do it when we go to the shops even now. It’s their normal.
Our second lockdown came straight after the long school holidays so no real difference to how we had been living over the past 8 weeks anyway.
With this latest lockdown, it’s currently only three days over a long weekend. So again, no change to our normal routine other than not being able to go to the park, like we would have done. We had plans to go on the Rediscover Rockingham Tram as it was the last weekend it would be running, visit the local Rotary Sunday Market to scour through the toy section for more Transformers and then just frolick along the Rockingham foreshore while the weather was still warm. But these activities are not routine, so he will be fine with not doing them.
Keeping some of the old routines
We still have our small routines within our day. We will get outside every day in some shape or form.
He will still get his sausages, baked beans, cheese and toast for breakfast. He will still be able to watch his YouTube videos and re-enact them around the house. We will still eat dinner at the table (a fairly new routine since Husband stopped FIFO work), go straight into a bath after dinner, into PJs for quiet time before bed.
He will still, sadly, wake at 5am with fully charged batteries up his bum. He will still be naked far too much.
Plenty will still be familiar and comfortable. We have a few activities planned to keep them both entertained, but mainly it will be just trying to keep sane until we can be out of the house as normal.
Who wants to be “normal”?
“Normal” has never been a word we embrace in our house. “Team Weird”, as the Frog likes to say, have always needed to do things a bit different.
So maybe that’s why he has coped so well.
Being different is our normal routine.
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