Why the COVID-19 Life Changes Are Hard for My Brother With Autism

Freya O'Horo
Dian playing by the water.
Dian playing by the water.

A lot of families are experiencing so many feelings and emotions during the coronavirus pandemic. Stress, anxiety, panic, fear, worry, boredom, uncertainty and more. For our household, we’ve seen what this uncertainty and struggle can do to a young boy with autism.

Every day we hear the same few things from Dian. “Go to the shop.” “Wanna go to Finn’s house” (his cousin) and “wanna go to McDonald’s.” Explaining to him that everything is closed and we’re all on lockdown because of coronavirus isn’t so simple and straightforward. You can see the frustration fill his body and how upset he gets. He feels we don’t understand what he wants, but we do. We just can’t give it to him.

Every day is filled with meltdowns and tears because he doesn’t understand what’s going on around him. We’ve told him it’s “sick holidays” and that “Freya’s waiting for McDonald’s to text her it’s open.” He wants to leave the house so badly, so we bring him on walks and to the local lake, but we know it’s not enough for him. He just wants to go and get out.

Related:Download The Mighty app to connect in real time with people who can relate to what you're going through.

Every day we try to give him new things to focus on and cheer him up.

I know a lot of families with a child on the autism spectrum are facing the same problems we are. We are all adapting to the new fears and struggles this pandemic is bringing into our homes. I know the frustration you feel when you hear people meeting up for parties or overcrowding beaches, because they’re the reason we’re stuck inside a little longer. If only people could experience what we experience in a day, perhaps they would think twice before violating social distancing rules.

The coronavirus pandemic is a struggle for us all, but many of us know what’s happening and why a lockdown has been put in place. Imagine not knowing or understanding why you can’t leave your home. That’s what Dian is facing every morning he wakes up. He’s struggling and it breaks my heart that I can’t make all of this go away.

Related:Why I Hope We'll Continue to Rethink the Handshake After the COVID-19 Pandemic Ends

I want other families like mine to know you’re not in this alone. I know how hard the bad days are and how impossible it is to keep to a routine. This pandemic will end. We can get through this together. By sharing our stories, offering support and personal experiences, we will make it to the end of this.

Use this time to find new interests and make new connections with your sibling or child with autism. I’ve discovered Dian and I have a similar love of baking and water sports. We now spend our time together baking and playing in our paddling pool. Staying positive and connected can help these days pass and this time go by more quickly.

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