New Insights Learned From Being in Lockdown
New Insights learned from being in lockdown.
I’ve realized something: After several months of our family sheltering in place from the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve noticed that our household is a lot calmer and less stressful.
It was shortly after the first month when Kailee said something very insightful to me; we were in the kitchen one morning….you know the kind of morning where you’re not really quite all the way awake….and as I was getting a cup of coffee, she was having her breakfast and suddenly said to me, “Mom, I am so grateful I have my life back.”
Her words stopped me in my tracks!!
I felt what she was saying to me was very profound.
So, I asked her what she meant, and she said, “ I’m glad I have my life back! I don’t have to work, go to school, go to tutoring, or even an art class.”
I asked my husband, who was sitting in the office if he had heard what she said to me? I said she just told me that she was grateful she had her life back. WOW, huh?!? Pretty profound! As I thought about it, I realized what she was actually trying to tell me was that before COVID-19, her life was just too “much.”
We had too much on her schedule, too many activities, and just too much of everything.
Her statement hit me for a few reasons. First, she was having her own thoughts about her life. Second, the slower pace of life that the pandemic was causing had allowed her to express herself. Is seemed so simple, but she had never said anything like this before.
It is surprising that now, more than three months into this “new normal,” our family life does seem less stressful for all of us. Her behaviors now are entirely different than before the lockdown. She is a different child….and, perhaps, her life was too full.
Of course, we’re all still dealing with a bit of anxiety from the global pandemic and our new routines. But for now, many of the stressors that we have had in the house seem to have diminished.
Could school and extra activities be part of the problem?
I asked Kailee what she thought about online learning versus going to school. What she said about the topic was also pretty interesting (What’s the old saying? Out of the mouths of babes…), so I decided to interview Kailee and share her responses with you all in video form. You can watch the interview video below.
Then, last week, I started reading an article written by Rebecca Duffus (2020), who begins the article with: “School is the problem for many autistic pupils, but there are ways of changing this.” This completely caught my attention as I started to read it, and I decided to dig in. She discovered (by asking parents of children with autism), that most parents had felt similarly to how I felt. Now that our kids are not in school, many of the problems and the stressors that they struggled with have been removed.
Rebecca put into words what Kailee was trying to say. She also provided a much clearer understanding of the demands of our children in the school settings.
Our children, before lockdown, had to navigate many more social and sensory demands than their neurotypical peers.
Here are some of the demands mentioned in the article: Sharing a class with as many as 29 other students with varying degrees of perfumes, deodorants, and bodily smells and continually having to use logic and problem-solving skills for various social interactions. The additional sensory input alone can be overwhelming. The multiple sounds of others in the classroom, tapping pencils, kicking the table, noise from the hallways, cafeteria, and bright lights all impact our children.
All of these additional demands in the school setting could certainly impact and drain their cognitive supply.
Now that learning is online, and at home, our kids can learn in a comfortable place they prefer and works best for them.
Now that a lot of the social and sensory demands have been removed for our children, what happens when they have to go back to school and re-enter the social world?
Here are six simple tips from Rebecca’s list of 11 that can make a big difference moving forward.
- A sensory profile could be complete with the family and the young person to gain a better understanding of where they should be positioned in the classroom.
- Find out what the young person values
- A daily short check-in using visual emotions
Opportunities to have them talk about what interests them.
- Secret signals between a young person and adult to share concerns
- A place of peace where they can go during the school day to regulate their emotions.
- The designated person to go to if they have a question or concern.
We can take these findings and insights from our children and share them with our child’s teachers and school administrators. Ask them to embrace these insights and help make a difference in the lives of our children so they can access learning in a way that can genuinely benefit them.
Duffus Rebecca. “New insights from social isolation about provision for autistic pupils” Learning From Lockdown.