I need absolutes and hard facts. I need a specific date and time. I realize that everyone wants to know when this pandemic virus will run its course. The thing is, I need to know now. I am autistic. I know that is not breaking news.
“I know that, to most people, autism does not entitle me to be the first to know about every world issue.”
I deal with cold hard facts. I like schedules. I like everything to be planned out down to the second. My life is fairly rigid. I schedule everything. I even schedule what we will do on family vacations. So, it really should be no surprise to anyone that I need to know when this whole COVID disaster will be over.
This virus has turned life as we know it upside down. My daughters have not attended in person schooling since March of 2020. My middle daughter has not been able to participate in any of her beloved sports. Her dreams of running her last season of high school cross country have been trampled on. My oldest daughter was supposed to start her first semester of college in September. Instead, she is doing remote learning from home.
The biggest hurdle has been trying to smoothly transition my youngest daughter from in person learning to e-learning. She actually didn’t like going to school before the pandemic, but it did provide consistency. She knew when to be at school and when to be at home. It was that monotonous routine that she loved. She may not love school, but she relishes routine. Now she checks into e-learning every school day. Unfortunately, it just isn’t the same.
There is no separation between home and school. School and home have sort of melded together. There is no set lunch time, no bells between classes and no buses. There are no students. No teachers to engage with. This is uncharted territory. Of course, my daughters have to log onto their school provided laptops by a specific time. There is a daily schedule. Teachers are doing the best they can. It’s just not the same old routine. We have tried to create comfortable work spaces for each child.
“We are determined to make the best of a constantly changing situation.”
I worry that if my daughters adapt to e-learning, they will never want to step foot into a school building again. I worry that my youngest daughter is not gaining appropriate social skills. She prefers to keep to herself, even when she is physically at school. Now that she is at home learning, she rarely socializes with anyone outside our four walls.
As you can see, I need an exact date when COVID will come to its completion. When will we have access to a vaccine? When will this virus vanish? The truth is, no one can give me any assurance of when this beast will be slayed. Will it be months or years? No one is certain.
In the meantime, I am trying to provide as much consistency as possible. I’m trying to remind myself and my daughters that this is just a season in life we all have to go through. There is only one way out, to move forward. We will overcome this pandemic. We will learn how to do school in a new way. We will make new schedules and routines. We will survive.
For those, like us, on the spectrum that feel utterly adrift, anchor yourself to your loved ones. Be honest about your feelings. Make new schedules, find a new hobby and relish your special interests. We can get through this, one day at time.