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30th July 2020

YouTube in the Bedroom?

As staying in is the new going out, Social Media has unfortunately become the number one activity for many throughout this pandemic, and none more so than many people living with the challenges that Autism presents.

When the news started to filter through about the mystery virus, I thought it was a long way from home and watched with interest to see how it would affect me and my work with a young adult who lives with Autism, Challenging Behaviour and severe learning disability . Little did I know that it was to have a very profound effect on all parties, both now and for some considerable time going forward into a somewhat hazy future.

I have worked with the young man and his mum for several years, and he has come a very long way with his social interaction and environments in which he can now function with his own brand of anxiety management. This is great news, as his conditions by rights, should ordinarily not allow him to make such gains.

The activity package funded for this young man has been hugely reduced over the last couple of years leaving us with little funded activity in the community to try and meet the sensory menu which always has formed a large part of his care plan. His very favourite activities are to picnic in the park and spend time on the swings, hence our current conundrum with, well what CAN we do?

So what of guidance? We have received nothing really from Social Services or Continuing Health Care as to what adjustments need to be made, so we have made our adjustments ourselves to try and limit the potential negative effects that the lockdown could cause. Firstly, we had a two-week period during which we really didn’t know whether we were even allowed to take our client out in the car for a drive even when it was the only activity that we could legally do according to the limited advice. There was seemingly no allowance made for someone who needed to go out to stabilise the feeling of routine, reduce anxiety and maintain good mental health . Remember that this particular young man is very selfeffacing and feels that he is being punished should he face such restrictions as: no trip out in the car, no visit to the swing park, no trip to the café, or even none of his favourite type of snack or drink.

PPE is not something that this young man will comprehend and we received minimal guidance. We were left with everyone else watching Boris at 5pm every day or relying on generic advice and then interpretation over coffee the following morning, to ensure it met the needs of our client and the safety of us, before deciding if and where we might venture forth today. Until April, when finally we were presented with specific guidance for our sector (Gov.uk).

Clearly these times are unprecedented, and I can only hope that we have learned that individuals in ALL types of social care settings should be an early priority group.

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