Usually around this time, our community is getting ready in preparation for World Autism Month in April. Different organizations, families, professionals and self advocates are making the final touches in preparation for the time of the year in which our society pays the most attention to Autism and the impact it has on the World, specifically on the lives it touches.
However, this is not an ordinary time not only for the Autism Community, but , for the entire Earth. The corona virus (or COVID-19) has caused a massive disruption to our daily lives for the last couple of months. Because of the virus, our society has implemented measures in order to stop the spread of the disease and defeat it. Ironically , some of these measures are very familiar in our community.
Social distancing is something that people with Autism and also their families have been dealing with for years or throughout their life. It may not impact us a lot like most people in society, our community has been negatively been impacted by this virus in different ways, such as the interruption of routines, transition to full time online school learning, increased anxiety, and many other challenges. I understand for parents and educators, it has to be very frustrated to deal with these unexpected changes with children with Autism and for adults with Autism , it must be very frustrating to deal with all these changes at the same time.
For me personally, I have dealt and currently dealing with these challenges as a autistic self advocate, specially with increased anxiety, increase in depression, frustration with the cancelation of speaking events and changes with my schedule. For the last couple of years I have worked very hard in getting more sociallly engaged, but, now to go back to more social distancing and isolation is very frustrating.
Despite the crisis of the corona virus (COVID_19), it is in this time of great challenge that our Autism and disabilities advocacy work cannot stop. More than ever, we need to get together as a community to help each other to over these challenges. The mission of our community in terms of raising awareness, creating acceptance , have a commitment and create action to help each being with Autism remains the same, not matter what is happening in our World right now. Let’s put our differences that exist in the community aside and let’s go out there to help each other to overcome this global crisis together as One Autism World Community.
List of resources to help families, self advocates, professionals and organizations during the COVID_19:
Autism Society of Florida: https://www.autismfl.org/
Autism Society of America: https://www.autism-society.org/covid-19/
National Autistic Society (UK): https://www.autism.org.uk/services/helplines/coronavirus.aspx
Universitat de Barcelona (Spanish) https://www.sjdhospitalbarcelona.org/es/trastorno-espectro-autismo-coronavirus-informacion-familias
Las personas con autismo pueden salir a la calle con un acompañante: https://www.eitb.eus/es/noticias/sociedad/detalle/7111730/coronavirus-personas-autismo-pueden-salir-calle-acompanante/
Be safe and we will come out of this strong. Thank you.
Tony Hernandez Pumarejo