The Impact of Lockdowns on Families of Special Needs Kids

Today is Friday – end of another week in Sydney in lockdown.

Now, I can’t speak for everyone but I personally feel burned out. It’s been an interesting time in which I have learned to appreciate the unacknowledged freedoms I had. The tedium of groundhog day when you can’t do much beyond a bit of exercise, watching TV, making lots of food and telephoning friends and family. I’ve also been trying to work my son through the final challenging year of HSC exams and the impact of remote learning. At least at his age I don’t also face the challenges of dealing with a host of other matters like a lot of other parents with younger children.

Now, every challenge has it’s drawbacks and benefits. For those of us whose kids thrive on routine and activity it’s been extraordinarily difficult. Trying to do school work remotely whilst maintaining other commitments can be challenging to say the least. On the upside, there has been plenty of family time and lots of opportunity to do some fun things together. But it wouldn’t matter how well we all get on, an overdose of togetherness can fray the nerves of the best of us. :).

For those of us with kids with special needs the COVID 19 situation has been extra fraught and filled with challenges. Some of those extra challenges have been things like:

  • The worry and concern of what COVID 19 means to a child with compromised health
  • The fact that there is at this point no vaccine for children, which increases the risks for children with health issues.
  • Concern for those children that are immuno compromised and cannot be vaccinated to create immunity and are therefore more vulnerable to the potential effects of the virus in the longer term
  • Having hospital beds less available for those that may need them for medical emergencies related to health issues
  • Not being able to attend regular medical appointments because of lockdowns
  • Reduced availability of carers and other support services to give valuable assistance and relief.
  • The difficulties caused by a change in routine, especially for those kids on the autism spectrum that don’t cope with a change in structure and routine and find it difficult to adjust.
  • Not having the normal array of resources (like outings etc) available for distraction and valuable social contact.
  • The halting and even reversing of educational progess and social skills
  • Trying to remote school children that may have issues like ADHD who have struggled to maintain focus and motivation without the routine of school
  • Exhausted parents who may be trying to work from home whilst care for, home school and entertain children with higher needs
  • Financial impact from those whose employment has been affected by the lockdown.
  • The impact on mental health of parents struggling with no help and no breaks and whose energy tank is severely depleted.

I’m sure these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Now that the lockdowns (at least in NSW and possibly Victoria) are being cut back, it poses another dilemma for parents of vulnerable kids. Do you send them back to school or keep them at home? There are some articles from the overseas experience which talk about some of the issues.

Covid-19: Special-Needs Parents Face Dilemma Amid Pandemic – Rolling Stone

 

Destination Education: Return to classrooms does not mean back to normal for kids with special needs (foxla.com)

In the upcoming weeks we will see what re-opening means for our community. On the upside it means that access to some of our invaluable resources will be restored, but on the downside it will mean an increase in COVID 19 cases and more community transmission, which is a grave concern for the vulnerable in our sector. Stay safe, everyone. 🙂

 

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