For many people with autism, uncertain, stressful times can cause heightened anxiety and upset. Understandably I have had good days and bad days when coping with the lockdowns and isolation periods we have had during the past 18 months.
It hasn’t been easy to cope during the lockdown periods and I have had to be careful to not lose the confidence that I worked hard to build up and also not fear social interaction.
Although I have found many positive aspects of the lockdown, I had to learn to adapt quickly to routine changes, which did cause anxiety. It is unsurprising that we have seen an increased risk of mental health issues.
What Helped Me Cope?
- Reframing thoughts. I tried to reframe negative automatic thoughts and reflect on what is going well whilst in lockdown.
- Being more mindful. I believe the environment is starting to heal which gave me the chance to see the beauty in nature.
- Relaxing and connecting. I saw how people valued human interactions more and took the time to recharge their batteries (not literally!)
- Setting goals and tasks. I enjoyed focusing on my goals and catching up with projects, without having the additional pressures of ‘normal life’.
- Being creative. I spent lots of time delving into my special interests and worked on projects including knitting, writing, baking and photography.
- Continuing to learn and practice skills. Lockdown periods gave me an opportunity to gain vital life skills, for example learning how to cook. I am slowly becoming more independent and have enjoyed taking driving lessons.
Top Tips For Coping in Lockdown and Isolation Periods:
- Stay connected – keep in touch with friends and family in whatever way you can to combat feelings of loneliness, which many people with autism experience on a regular basis.
- I find writing down my feelings help – maybe you could write a letter to a friend or keep a journal?
- Do something for others – helping others can help increase your own self-esteem. Volunteering is a great way to help others and there are a number of opportunities at Incredible Kids. We’d love to hear from you if you’d like to help with the amazing work the team do to support children and young people with disabilities or additional needs and their families. Find out more here!
- Be active – daily exercise is vital. I enjoy walking and tennis.
- Plan – It’s important to try and develop your own routine with an element of flexibility and fun – I aim to achieve at least two things each day and at the end of every day, I reflect on what went well and what I am proud of. I plan out what I am going to do each day, even if I have to ‘plan to do nothing.’
- Creating social stories to explain to your child what is happening and why could really help. You could create visual prompts to explain how to wash hands, the importance of social distancing etc.
- Try not to put all the emphasis on home-learning, especially if your child is overwhelmed. The most important thing to currently focus on is maintaining a positive mindset and making memories with your family. Now that schools are ‘winding down’ for the end of term there will be less pressure for any children who are self-isolating from school.
- Keep channels of communication open to allow your child to express how they are feeling. Keeping a diary of memories/experiences during the lockdown can help.