Lockdown experiences: Children with autism
Just after lockdown started we spoke to Ted (10), Robyn (16), Lily (14) and their mum Mandy about how their lives had changed. This week we caught up with them again to hear how they’ve been getting on.
Despite being a bit fed up, they’re generally doing fine. But as the mother of three autistic children, Mandy is looking beyond lockdown and worrying there may be a return to austerity. She fears support for children like hers could be the first thing to go.
Ted has been offered the option to go back to school but for various reasons the family have decided he should stay at home a bit longer. Mum, Mandy, has paid for an online learning platform because they ran out of school resources.
“It’s really hard doing quarantine, I didn’t like wearing the mask. I’m a sociable person and it’s hard to keep away, I found going to the shops scary because there were a lot of people and it’s hard to keep away from people.”
“We’ve been in the paddling pool a lot and I’ve learned to ride a bike. It’s yellow!!
Robyn’s school has started the 6th form term early, so Robyn is already on week three. Mandy feels the school has been great.
“My head of 6th form emails every day – the contact has been very good.”
“This week would have been my break after my GCSEs, and we would have had prom this month.”
“I call my friends every day, it’s so hard. We’d be out every day but we can’t now. I’m out socialising, but we would have had a sleep over, I’m bored and fed up, I’ve lost my social life.”
“I don’t even know what to do with myself anymore. Walking the dog keeps me sane and lets me breathe fresh air.”
Lily is continuing to do very well in school and has even won some awards for her academic achievement.
“I’m getting good reports but I’ve needed this week off as it’s been difficult.”
“I’m still in a positive frame of mind, we can totally get through this. I’m in contact with my friends, we do a girls night, and practice our make up for when we go back to school.”
“Our school has been told which years are going back, and I’m not one of them. We were told that it might be next year until we go back – we were told the kids that are doing ok at home learning, will be kept off and those struggling will be brought back first.”
“And I’m walking the neighbour’s dog, I’m saving up for the eco living Sims pack, and I can’t wait for Teen Wolf to start again on TV.”
“As a parent, looking at my children going back to school, I just want to know it’s safe. Safe for the children but also safe for us economically: with one wage, we don’t have money saved away, we are worried if we are constantly in isolation we will lose our income. My husband is the wage earner in the family, and if he gets sick or is told to self-isolate due to Track and Trace we’ll have no income.”
“Children are going to need more mental health support but if it wasn’t there before, why will it be there after? Parents will need to be their children’s mental health support because there’s nothing available.”
“We’ve been through 10 years of austerity and we lost services. We took it last time. We don’t want to take it again.”
17th April 2020
Over the next few weeks, we will speaking with children to find out how the national lockdown has affected them. How do they feel being locked up at home for weeks on end, away from friends? What do they miss most? Is there anything about the lockdown they like?
Earlier this week we spoke with siblings Robyn aged 16, Lily aged 14, and Ted aged 10. They each have autism and are being home-schooled by their mum, Mandy.
Ted had a tricky first week of home schooling but according to mum, Mandy, he’s settling into it. He’s been learning about Henry VIII and his six wives. Mandy tells us Ted’s hands are red raw, from washing them every 20 minutes.
“We do home-schooling – we don’t see our friends. We have to stay inside.”
“I feel scared about the coronavirus because mummy or daddy might get it.”
“We follow the rules. I don’t like it when other people don’t follow the rules.”
“I’m nervous about the future because of the virus.”
Robyn studied hard for her GCSEs but they’ve been cancelled. She’s missing her friends, but technology is helping.
“It’s quite stressful, I have a pattern but it’s weird to have no system. It’s weird not to sit at my desk in school all day. I miss the normality.”
“I can’t do my GCSEs because they have been cancelled. Our grades are decided by my mocks. We’re told to stress about our GCSEs all year and now they’re saying don’t stress about them.”
“It’s kind of a blessing to not have the stress of the exams, but there’s no goal for the work anymore. If you put work in now it will count for something, that’s what the teacher says.”
“In Year 11 you do exams then spend time with your friends. People said this is the best summer of your life but it isn’t going to happen.”
“I’m worried about going back into sixth form, I won’t know people, but I’m not worried about the future, I am very positive, I trust in scientists. In some ways this is good as it’s showing us we need to be kinder and showing us the flaws in the capitalist system.”
Lily had only just returned to school after 14 months, she was pleased to be back and was making friends when the lockdown started.
“I was home schooled for 14 months and was happy to go back. Now that’s been taken away.
“Teachers setting so much work, some teachers are good but some aren’t available if we have questions about the work.”
“I miss social interaction, I’m missing my friends.”
“I want there to be a future. Everything is going to be ok if we stay positive. The future is going to be ok, let’s not go crazy over this and do what we’re meant to do.”