2020 has thrown most of us a curve ball, but for parents of children on the autism spectrum, where creating and maintaining a strict routine is central to a calm and managed home life, the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic is having a bigger impact than most.
Thea, a mother of two children on the autism spectrum from the Hunter region, says the coronavirus has had a huge impact on her family’s life, particularly her 11 year old son, Jarrah.
“At the start of the pandemic Jarrah thought that if he just stepped outside the house he would catch coronavirus and then die,” Thea said, “He wouldn’t even go into our backyard!” she said.
“Moving Jarrah from extreme anxiety around learning at home, to finally having some enthusiasm for connecting with teachers and classmates online and completing set tasks was a major accomplishment, and not without its challenges.
“Thankfully, Jarrah’s back at school now and is so much more settled because he has the routine of school again,” Thea said.
But Jarrah’s schooling isn’t the only struggle facing Thea and her family due to the coronavirus.
“It’s been really difficult,” Thea said, “We don’t have any family support nearby, my husband lost work hours due to the pandemic and our chronically ill daughter had medical appointments cancelled. And, like so many others, I miss having time to myself and catching up with friends.”
Unfortunately Thea’s family is just one of the many families whose lives have been turned upside down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That is why Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) has created the Coronavirus Crisis Fund. The fund is working to help students, like Jarrah and his sister, to continue to get the support they need during this difficult time, including financial assistance.
Aspect Chief Executive Officer, Jacqui Borland, said the fund was essential for some families and had been able to create a sense of continuity for others.
“We know that the coronavirus is having a significant impact on our families, with disruptions to routines and a reduction in face to face physical supports.
“While parents and carers are facing their own struggles, including working from home or loss of employment, which can easily lead to feelings of being overwhelmed without the support of specialists.
“The idea behind the Coronavirus Crisis Fund was to ensure that families who are struggling receive additional financial support to keep their child/ren in autism-specific education,” Ms Borland said.
“To date we have been able to assist over 1,000 families in need, and I want to thank everyone who has kindly given to us during these extraordinary times.”
Thea also wants to thank those who have supported the fund.
“I don’t have the words to express just how grateful we are to be receiving Aspect sponsorship for our son. I get emotional every time I think about it.
“It’s not just the financial help we have received - just being at Aspect can help alleviate so many other struggles that children on the autism spectrum and their families face,” she said.
If you would like to donate to the Aspect Coronavirus Crisis Fund please visit the Aspect website.