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Coronavirus: Lockdown life on the autism spectrum

Coronavirus: Lockdown life on the autism spectrum

Published at 6:11am 14th May 2020.

The past two months on lockdown have been challenging for everyone, but for those with autism, there have been extra challenges.

  • Changes to normal routine and new restrictions are especially challenging for many of the 700,000 autistic people in the UK.
  • Even without current restrictions on everyday life, autistic people can become isolated.
  • We've been hearing from a Harrogate mum about how seemingly routine tasks like going to the shops can be difficult.

In the past two months, the lives of everyone in the UK have changed drastically, and become much more restricted.

This has been challenging for all of us, and has taken a lot of getting used to.

But what if you are Mum to two young children, and your autistic spectrum condition means that going to the shops can sometimes be too overwhelming?

That's the case for Laura, who lives in Harrogate. Most of the time, she can get by using small shops close to where she lives, but they started to run out of supplies.

Laura told Stray FM about some of the challenges she's experienced:

"There's been a couple of times when I've gone into the smaller shops for eggs and milk and things like that and they haven't had it.

"Instead of going to another shop, I've kind of lost my nerve and come home and just gone without, which obviously with two children isn't easy.

"It was getting to the point that I needed to go to a bigger supermarket and it was keeping me up at night, stressing about it... it was the unknown."

no delivery slots
Laura usually uses home delivery services for supplies from supermarkets, but most major supermarket chains have had problems with availability.

"Outside of lockdown, if I wanted to go physically shopping I'd take my Dad with me because he drives.

"Obviously I can't do that, I've not seen him or my Mum in over a month. My parents are older so they don't really understand Facetime that much, so that's... an experience!

"My anxiety - just about leaving the house - is a lot more during lockdown."

LISTEN: Laura's first lockdown supermarket trip

Laura tells Stray FM about her first experience going to the supermarket during Lockdown.

Laura's story isn't unique - there are around 700,000 autistic people living in the UK.

Last month, the Government relaxed lockdown restrictions for people on the autism spectrum.

Jane Harris, Director of External Affairs at the National Autistic Society, welcomed the move:

"Even seemingly small changes can feel catastrophic to autistic children and adults, so the coronavirus pandemic has been exceptionally challenging for the 700,000 autistic people in the UK and their families.

"Going out for a walk is an important part of many autistic people’s routine and changing that may jeopardise their health and safety.

“Some autistic people might need someone to go with them on a walk or a trip to the shops and careworkers may need to link arms with them, simply to keep them safe. Some could need more than one person with them.

"If members of the public or police rush to judge, they might think this is someone ignoring the rules of social distancing. But it’s actually vital for that person’s safety and wellbeing."

The National Autistic Society has put together various resources to help people across the UK on the autism spectrum to deal with lockdown.