We've never experienced anything like this in our lifetimes. We watched as the news started reporting on a new virus identified in China that was running rampant. And before we could catch our breath, we watched in horror as a global pandemic raced around the world, shutting down one country after another. Schools closed. Offices closed. Streets went quiet. The world took on an eerie quality, as if people had just abandoned society.
And then there were the new words that very quickly entered the lexicon. "Social distancing" and "flattening the curve" were terms that we'd never used before, but now we were using those principles to save our lives. Most people felt the impact of the lock-down immediately. While I was climbing the walls for something to do, somewhere to go, someone to be with, my kids had never been more content.
For my kids, who are 15 and 20, social distancing was a dream come true. You see, part of their challenges as individuals on the Autism spectrum is social discomfort. They are most comfortable by themselves or playing online with their friends. Getting them to go out with their friends or getting involved in extracurricular clubs, was always a challenge. They were always the kids who didn't quite fit anywhere. Until now. My kids are old pro's at social distancing; they've spent their lives feeling uncomfortable and awkward around people and trying to escape to the safe haven of their bedrooms. Two months into the lock-down and I'm losing my mind. My children have never been happier. And therein lays the problem.
Don't get me wrong. We all want our kids to be happy. But what will the long-term effects of this lockdown will be on those individuals who were already uncomfortable and socially awkward. When social distancing starts to ease, will they venture back into society? Right now, their world is very comfortable, no sources of frustration, anxiety or need to try to fit into a world that wasn't really wasn't designed for them. The socially distant world is designed for them. What if they don't want to leave it when things start to return to normal? I'm not alone in these fears. Talk to any parent who has asked for extended school year programs in order to prevent regression. Ask them how long it takes to get their child back into their routine after a week's vacation. Imagine after being off for almost 6 months?
We are in uncharted territory here. And I, for one, am not sure how to navigate it.
I'd love to hear some feedback. Let me know what you think!