Coronavirus. A word, which for me, has bought with it confusion, anxiety and uncertainty. As someone who copes by living via a routine the last week for me has been very difficult to process. I’m certain that I am one of many on the spectrum who are struggling to stay calm.
I thought I would share some information on Coronavirus and what it means for those in the UK over the next few weeks. I will also try and share some tips for coping which hopefully may be of some help. We all need to stick together through this and remember that we are not alone.
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness which is impacting thousands of lives in the UK, including autistic people and their families. The main symptoms of this virus are – but not limited to – a repeated cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath.
There are lots of stories in the media which focus on death counts – so it is important to know that the majority of people will get better from Covid-19. If you think you have the symptoms listed above then please don’t be frightened, you will be ok! But, you must call 111 and get advice – do not visit your local doctors unless instructed to.
What do we have to do?
This week the UK prime minister announced a nationwide, ‘lockdown’. As Covid-19 is an extremley contagious disease the best way to stop the spread of it is for everyone to stay in their own homes as much as possible. You are only allowed to leave your house for the following reasons:
- exercise once a day (walk, run or cycle either alone or with other people who live with you) – I highly recommend taking your hour excersie each day, it helps keep your mind clear and in turn will benefit your anxiety.
- shop for essentials such as food or medicines
- fulfil any medical or care needs
- travel to work if it’s absolutely necessary (work from home if possible)
If you do go out then you have to keep two metres (six foot) apart from other people, (‘other people’ means anyone who is not a member of your household). If you’re like me and you struggle with visualising measurements this distance is roughly the same as your arms being stretched out infront of you twice over. If you can touch anyone then you are definetly too close and need to take a few steps away from them.
Further help and advice:
The National Autistic Society have shared some brilliant resources this past week which help explain, in simplified terms, what the Coronavirus pandemic is and what we can do to keep ourselves and others safe. There are lists for both adults and children which contain tips and advice for coping with this unprecedented period of change.
There are also Carol Grey’s Social Story and Mencap’s EasyRead Information. Both resources are brilliant ways to help inform those on the Autistic spectrum of their responsibilities during the current global situation. The resources provide instructions, such as how to wash your hands thoroughly and clear explainations as to why we must stay inside. Instructions will help add some routine and normality to the lives of those on the spectrum. This will make the pandemic easier for them to process and in turn cope with.
Try to make a plan of what you will do each day from when you wake up to when you go to sleep – this will be different to your normal routine, which may be unsettling at first, but it should help you feel calmer and more able to deal with the day.
For example, the past week my routine has been going to work, (I am classed as a key worker so am allowed to still travel to my place of work) coming home and utilising my ‘outside time’ by going for a run or doing a workout in my garden. I have then completed a job which I have had on my ‘to-do’ list for a while such as cleaning out my wardrobe or washing my car. By creating a schedule I have reduced my anxiety and been able to feel more able to keep positive during the current situation.
My favourite tip during this time is to try and read some positive news. I find if I read mainstream news too much it increases my worry and can make me feel very scared.
There are some great pages out there, such as The Happy Newspaper which report on positive stories from around the world; something to make you smile in the midst of this outbreak.
Try not to be scared during these next few weeks, try to remain positive and try to add some normality to your life wherever you can. All this will blow over, we just have to unite and follow the rules to keep each other safe for the timebeing.
You can find plenty more advice regarding Covid-19 on The National Autistic Society‘s website. If you don’t find the answers you are looking for you can always use their online enquiry form or message them via one of their social media pages. They have taken the decision to suspend their telephone helpline in order to support the health and wellbeing of their staff and volunteers so please do not try to call them – I’m sure as soon as their telephone helplines are active again they will let us know.
Please message me if you have any questions or just want someone to chat with. 🙂
Stay safe everyone – us Aspies will get through this together!! x