My Tom is having a good Lockdown.
His 19th birthday. A big cake at least every second day.
He can sleep in as long as he likes and has nothing to worry about.
In our house only the dog is happier with the change in our circumstances.
Our aims for Tom are to bring him on a walk daily and bake a cake or do some colouring or painting.
Otherwise, he’s got DisneyPlus for his birthday and he watches a bit of that.
We have a garden and he swings on his swing and his hammock.
He seems very content.
That’s because he’s not challenged at all, I suppose.
He has Mum and Dad around a lot more and all of his siblings.
What could be better?
He did ask once or twice if he was going to school, then asked a couple of times if we were packing to go on holiday.
Then he settled into assuming this was just a very long weekend.
We tried to tell him about the virus so he would observe personal space when he’s out but it’s very hard.
One of the worst moments of the whole crisis for me was when a shop assistant accosted me and said Tom hadn’t been observing social distancing.
She added that she knew him from the shop and added, “God help him.”
I really could have done without that comment.
I was hurt, though, Tom wasn’t.
Though he has days, like yesterday, when we just can’t tire him out, mostly he’s calm and very often we’re not.
It’s like the tables are turning and he’s the so-called “normal” one.
His three siblings freak out periodically.
They’re all within two years of him.
His twin is coping with the mad decision to postpone the Leaving Certificate until late in the summer.
He won’t have a summer at all, much less the Sixth Year holiday he ploughed all his money into.
His sister is coping with Fifth Year online and misses her friends.
Tom’s vocalisations are a flash-point in the house, particularly for her.
I’ve bought her a pair of noise cancelling ear-phones so, ironically, it is not the ASD kid who’s wearing them, it’s his sister.
We’re showing all our uglier colours as time wears on and by contrast, he’s never been more content.
The Lockdown teaches us many things and one of them, for me, is that there is too much sensory input in all our lives and that’s part of Tom’s problem.
The pace of life has got too fast and very often those who suffer most because of this are our ASD loved ones.
I wonder if I offer Tom too much stimulation in his usual life; then again, if he weren’t stimulated he wouldn’t have any hope at all of coping with daily life in the Dublin of today.
The question nags, though.
I can’t help thinking that this uncomplicated life which suits him so well is not a bad way of living and wondering if there’s any way we can simplify our life to suit him better in some eventual post-Covid world?