We are in Michigan and like many other states, we have been put on a “stay in place” order by our governor in order to get past this pandemic. Michigan is as of today the 4th highest state for Coronavirus cases and the USA has the most cases in the world, over China and Italy. It has been a crazy 3 weeks. The kids have been off school for 2 weeks and there are rumors that school may be done for the year. This is so unfortunate. I know many families are working from home while they try to instruct their kids with school work their teachers are giving them. It is tough for all families! But, when it comes to special needs, it is a whole different ballgame.
When others are walking by our house, this is our typical conversation as we are playing in the yard. “They might have the virus!” Marissa calls out loudly. “Stay 6 feet away!” Marissa calls this as she is flailing her arms around. “Marissa why are you doing that?” I ask. “I’m keeping the virus germs away from me, they are flying through the air!” She has no problem saying what we are all thinking (even if it isn’t true). KEEP AWAY! Every time I tell her to wash her hands she is worried that she has the virus on her hands. Every time I ask her to not touch her face, she thinks she is going to get sick. She wrote letters to family and friends and in most of them she has been saying, “I hope you don’t have the virus! I hope you don’t die.” This has rocked her world.
When this lock down happened, I shared with the kids that we would not be playing with any friends or seeing Grandma and Grandpa. I explained that we can only be around people that live in our home. If we see other people, we need to stay 6 feet away from them. I had to share the facts with them because Jacob has some friends down the road that he loves to play with. It also meant that we wouldn’t be having Jacob’s birthday party. It has been tough, but we are sticking to it! We need to stick to it!
I’ve seen so many memes going around on social media. “Don’t try to be their teacher, just let them have fun,” etc. Those were made for typical families. For Marissa, she absolutely hates school. She was so happy when school was canceled. But, if there is even a possibility that school will start back up, it is essential that we keep her doing school work. If we don’t they are going to have such a hard time getting her to do anything at school and she will more than likely become physically aggressive. We can’t take the chance. We have to keep pushing her to do the work she hates. Which is not so fun, but we are making it through. The hardest part is when Jacob needs help with something. Marissa needs one on one help. So, when Jacob needs help it pulls me away from what Marissa is doing. Normally that could mean tearing up work or eating it. Yep, you heard that right. She will eat her work to get out of it. We have to watch her close.
Schedules are what she thrives on, so that is what we’ve stuck with. This past week, we had a tough Thursday and I decided we would skip school work on Friday. Friday did not go well either! Because I deviated from the schedule it caused stress and lots of fighting. “Free play” doesn’t work for Marissa. She needs to have something planned to do or she will fight with her brother. When Tim is available, we have no problem. One of us can focus on her specifically and come up with things to do together, but it is not usually something she will usually figure out on her own.
This time is tough for all families, but please check in (calls, emails, messages) on those with special needs children. Let them know you are praying for them and encourage them. There are several families that I know that have kids that have major medical issues. They have different worries than me. If their child were to get this virus it could be deadly. Then there are many like Marissa who are no longer able to get the therapy/help they need while we are on lock down. We are seeing a lot of regression and the basic things they have mastered like playing nicely with her brother.
For those of you that have special needs kids, I would say no matter how busy things are. Try to take a break when you can. Your house may be a disaster and laundry needs to be done, but you are more important than those things. Go to bed early if you need the sleep. I’ve had to be intentional about making some time for myself. I’ve been reading and getting creative with lettering/drawing. It helps me to forget about what is going on for a bit. Make time for yourself!