Autism and Covid-19
The world is under a lot of stress. We are fighting an invisible enemy, a virus, Covid-19. The entire human population has been brought to its knees due to the spread of the virus across the globe. Nations have been locked down, people have been asked to avoid socializing and stay indoors. Business have come to a halt, the streets are owned by the police and military who don’t allow people to go out and are ensuring the lockdown is effective.
The idea of the lockdown is to limit the people from socializing and keeping the virus at bay. To buy some time while thousands of researchers try and find a cure before it goes out of hands again. It is estimated that more than a million people will get infected and few thousand people will die of the disease at the current trend.
During all this, we will be celebrating the World Autism Awareness Day on 2nd April. The day which is dominated mostly by organizations run and managed by neurotypicals to support the autistic community. There will be few social media posts where people will be tagging few autistic individual achievers and mostly about psychologist and other neurotypicals coming out and talking or explaining what autism is about. Many countries also follow the idea of lighting things blue, I have no idea how blue or a puzzle piece defines autism spectrum disorder and who decided that blue represent the autistic community.
But one thing we usually miss during all this is talking to an actual autistic person and asking them what do they feel or how life is treating them. Everyone want to celebrate but don’t want to know what they are celebrating or why it is being organized.
The reason why I started with talking about Covid-19 was twofold. One, people need to understand what it is and how dangerous it is and second, that it has made people to not socialize, seclude themselves, work from home and that is something I have been doing more or less my entire life.
Few days of isolation and social distancing has left a terrible mark on the psyche of the people and they have learned to socialize from a distance. A majority of population is affected by loneliness, many are feeling depressed, people are finding different means to take their daily dose of “people” and many are desperate to go out.
Just a few days like this have brought people down to their knees, imagine what will a lifetime of this will do. People like me who have adopted this lifestyle have not done it on purpose. I liked it because the world is too loud for me, it demands too much from an individual even when they are not comfortable with it.
This autism awareness day, I would request people to talk and know an autistic person and learn how life is for them rather than making a decision in your head that they all are disabled and can’t function.
These are harsh times for everyone. It may be easy for others to cope with it but not everyone is doing fine. I see so many fellow autistics suffering in silence and not able to explain how much they are worried and stressed. Even when they are saying it out loud, people are coming out and telling them to hold on and that it will pass, give time etc. etc. These kind of reassurance doesn’t work when you are dealing with someone with a mental health issue or condition. Someone rightly said “it feels as if a deaf person is being told that they can hear things if they put a little more effort”.
People need to understand that there are many autistic people around them and they must learn how to include them and make them part of their day to day life. What we need is that community members to be a bit more empathetic with the needs of the people and consider them when passing out a helping hand.
Covid-19 will impact all our lives differently and it is time where we show compassion and are open and accepting to people around us.