Today is 2nd April and is Autism Awareness Day. Every year lots of people ‘Light it up blue for autism’ by putting a blue light in their windows to raise awareness of Autism.
I know there are many planning to light up blue for a very different reason tonight, but tonight’s event can have a dual purpose. Remember those vital Blue Light workers, but also remember those people with autism. So many autistic people and their families are struggling with the lock down right now.
People with autism often find change hard to cope with, and life has changed very much. From getting shopping, to staying off school, cancelled social activities and isolation, routines right out of the window, many are finding life very different and difficult. Some are very scared now too, becoming completely obsessed with the virus and over-worrying, panicking and getting upset. There are also those on the other end of the spectrum that unable to understand and unable to maintain social distance, keep clean etc because they just haven’t got the capacity to do that.
Parents and carers are the hidden troopers here. They soldier on because they have no other choice. They are now at home providing 24/7 care and can’t call on friends or family to come and help to give them a rest. They’ve had support cut, schools closed and respite cancelled. They are now at home with no breaks and often other family members to care for, houses to run that need meals and shopping and cleaning, maybe homeworking whilst now needing to home educate and all this can impact hard on their mental health.
At the best of times it’s all about keeping the plates spinning. Now there are just more plates.
Being autistic doesn’t put you on the government vulnerable list either, so the support out there is no different to other families No special access to home shopping slots, and still having to go queue at the pharmacy and supermarket and in some cases take their cared for people along because they have no support.
So go dig out the blue Christmas tree lights and tonight when we put the blue lights on and clap for our hardworking Blue Light staff from NHS to Police, please leave a light on to show your support for those families who need to know they are not alone right now
By Lian Pate
Labour Councillor for Brunshaw, Shadow Executive for Community Services and Community Centre Manager