A Pandemic, A Quarantine, and Autism

It’s fascinating how quickly the world can change. Among those who behave inappropriately during a pandemic, there are far more who show kindness and provide humanitarian efforts. These are the happenings I choose to cherish during this uncertain time.

As of late, I smile to myself as I jog by a house in our neighborhood. In their front window stands a dry erase board with a new positive message every day. Today it said, “You’re awesome.” Yah, I kind of am, right?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not implying this is a hunky-dory time. It’s quite the opposite, but I’m a strong believer in finding the positive as much as possible.

I must confess, the “stay at home” order is not difficult for me. I am an introvert through and through. I absolutely love not having to rush anywhere and to just be home. It’s simply wonderful. Our son, Pace, doesn’t seem to care either. It’s not too far different from his day to day life as a four-year-old.

In contrast, it’s tough for our daughter, Brynn. Her schedule is completely different than it was a few weeks ago. She was used to a full day at school and then therapy for 3 hours after school. Ironically, those on the autism spectrum are known for being introverted, Brynn is not. She loves people so freaking much and it drives her recluse mother insane.

Okay, Okay, in all sincerity, it’s a splendid personality trait she has. I admire it.  

Thus, the last few weeks have been challenging for my little extrovert and will continue to be for a while. In our state schools have been officially closed for the remainder of the school year.

Cool. Cool. Cool.

I’m not surprised by it, but still sad for my girl who loves being with her classmates.

We have at least 10 talks a day about why we are at home and can’t play with friends. We watch videos about why we must stay home. We also read a social story about the subject. As I explain the reason we’re staying home to avoid getting sick or getting other’s sick, she replies “I’m all better.” I can barely grasp what’s happening right now, how are our sweet kids supposed to?

Stay At Home Social Story

Another obstacle we’re facing, is not meeting with her behavioral technician whom, under normal circumstances, she sees 5 days a week. She adores her. As a solution, I made Brynn a calendar marking the next time she will possibly see her technician. When Brynn asks about her, we refer to the calendar. It’s a helpful tool to assist her in coping.  She has also video chatted with her a couple of times, which was a HUGE support.

With the huge change to her life, she also regressed with her potty training. I’m not sure if those of you unfamiliar with the autism world know, but potty training a person on the autism spectrum is not for the faint of heart. We have been “training” since she was 2 ½. She’s 6 ½ now.

Cool. Cool. Cool.

I have made A LOT of mistakes in the process, but I’m learning what works best for her. Instead of feeling defeated and frustrated when she regresses, which occurs during any major changes in her life or ours, we go back to the basics. It only took a day of frequent potty trips to get her back on track. No, she’s still not fully trained, but maybe that’s a blessing that can come from all this time at home with me being able to prompt her. Although, she hasn’t needed my prompts all that much the last week or so. Lots of independent trips and I count that as a massive success.

Anyway, despite the difficulties we’ve faced, we have also experienced some wonderful things during our seclusion. I compiled some lists about the good, the bad and the things that have helped us during our stay at home order.

SIDE NOTE: Our kids are 4 and 6, so I realize the things that have helped them may not apply to older children. I would love to hear from all of you what you’ve found helpful with your kids.

10 Positive Points During The Quarantine:

  • I’ve been able to connect more with my daughter
  • Enjoying the moment more. Putting to-do’s aside to spend quality time with the family
  • We have spent lots of time outdoors, playing sports, climbing, going on “bear hunts” and many walks
  • Brynn having more and more independent potty trips
  • Seeing my kids play together and actually getting along while doing so
  • We’re using less technology
  • Finding fun videos to dance to together
  • With my husband working from home, I’m able to run outdoors in the morning…ALONE. It’s glorious.
  • We aren’t rushing anywhere and it’s so refreshing
  • Taking more time to watch my kids learn, be successful, and not so successful sometimes.

10 Not So Positive Points During The Quarantine:

  • My patience is very thin
  • I’ve eaten about $30 worth of Peanut M&Ms
  • My patience is very thin
  • My kids are “hungry” every 15 minutes
  • My patience is very thin
  • The kids think I need to constantly entertain them
  • My patience is very thin
  • My daughter is struggling not playing with other people
  • My patience is very thin
  • Did I mention my patience is very thin?

10 Items Helping Our Kids Through the Quarantine:

  • Snacks, snacks, and more snacks
  • LOTS of outdoor time
  • Kinetic Sand
  • ABC Mouse
  • Playing frisbee and baseball
  • Dance parties
  • Wrestling
  • Singing
  • Sunshine
  • FaceTime and video chats

10 Items Helping The “Grown-ups” through the quarantine: (let me be honest, these are helpful quarantine or not)

  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Running
  • The Office
  • Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Sunshine
  • Social Media
  • The lovely spring blooms sprouting
  • Our evenings together after the kids go to sleep
  • Working, playing and lounging in the yard
  • Ozark

10 Great Youtube Channels: (some are to get our bodies moving and some are educational):

  • Go Noodle
  • Koo Koo Kanga Roo (um, it’s problem wrong how much I like this channel)
  • Storyline Online (celebrities reading children’s books outloud)
  • Speech Blubs
  • Scratch Garden
  • Moovlee (I love this one to help calm the kids at night. They have a mediation and yoga videos for kids)
  • KidsTV123
  • Homeschool Pop
  • Whiz Kid Science
  • Jack Hartmann

I hope you’re all holding up. Regardless of circumstances, this situation is trying on everyone. Be well, stay safe.

Love, Mel

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