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Autism Under The Coronavirus Pandemic The struggles with autism during Lockdown

The Issue

This blog was written by Maggie Cheng to highlight the amazing teamwork at Three Little Bird's, working tirelessly to raise awareness and support for families struggling during this pandemic. For people with autism, it can be difficult for them to navigate the changes and they can be easily upset by changes in a daily routine. It is not easy for them to express their feelings of frustration and fears during these uncertain times and need our help more than ever.

Due to the restrictions proposed by the UK government, families living with autism have not been provided with enough support from social care, education and mental health services. It can make them feel abandoned, isolated and hopeless. 

These are the reasons we need to raise awareness for people with autism and families who are struggling. We aim to provide them with support in as many ways as possible. In this blog, you could find relevant information about autism. We would like to provide a safe place for you to tell us about your struggles. We promise to do our best to help!

What Is Autism?

Here I will talk about what is autism for people who aren’t quite familiar with it.

Autism is a life-long condition. It affects at least 700,000 children in the UK. Boys are three times more common to be diagnosed with autism than girls. Unfortunately, the precise cause of autism is still not known. However, it is known that autism is hereditary which means it runs in the family. Also, older parents have a higher chance of conceiving a child with autism.

General Symptoms

Autism involves difficulties in social interaction and communication and the presence of restrictive or repetitive behaviour and interests. Symptoms include:

  1. Lack of eye contact

  2. Delayed speech

  3. Poor reasoning skills 

  4. Enjoying repetitive behaviour e.g., clapping

  5. Having trouble understanding other people’s feelings or difficulty talking about feelings

  6. Getting upset by changes in routine 

  7. Being seriously obsessed with certain interests 

  8. Big reactions to a sensory stimulus like smells, textures or lights

The functioning levels of autism can be from mild to severe. We should understand it as a spectrum where it could be less autistic or more autistic in a person with autism. Some of the autistic symptoms may be present and some of which may not be present in one individual. Everyone is different!

Additional conditions

It is very common that people with autism can have an additional condition for example, anxiety, depression, ADHD and learning difficulties such as dyslexia and delays in language development. They are 4 times more likely to have anxiety; two times likely to have depression. Self-harm behaviour, suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviours are significantly elevated in autistic people compared to the general population and psychiatric groups.

If you’re a parent and you think your child might be autistic, you should talk to your GP, health visitor, school teachers or relevant healthcare professional. Always observe your child’s behaviour and habit and write it down in a diary which you can provide to health professionals for assessment.

Please feel free to comment down below to share your opinion or experience or anything about autism. You can also tell us what other issues around autism that you would like us to discuss. We want to hear your voice!

The Struggles People With Autism And Their Family Are Going Through During The Pandemic

It has been almost a year since covid-19 happened. We have all been through the huge uncertainty and changes in our life. We have not been able to see our friends, we’ve been worrying about what we should and shouldn’t do…It has certainly been a stressful time for everyone. For children with autism and their parents, it has also been a challenge for them.

Autistic people can find it hard to navigate the changes. Even a small change of daily routine and an unexpected event can upset them and trigger anxiety. On top of this, people with autism who require a lot of support with daily activities have not been provided with enough social care, education and the mental health services during the lockdown as it is impossible to socially distance. A lot of pressure has been put on the parents and many of them feel abandoned and hopeless.

Based on the data collected from the National Autistic Society, where 4,232 autistic people in the UK were asked about their mental health during the lockdown. 9 in 10 of them expressed their concerns about how they were coping. 85% said their anxiety levels had gotten worse. Autistic people were 7 times more likely to feel lonely than others and 6 times more likely to have low life satisfaction. Also, 1 in 5 family members had to reduce work to take care of their autistic children; 7 in 10 parents say their children have had difficulty doing their schoolwork and half of them said their children’s academic progress was suffering.

This data clearly tells us that autistic people and their families are going through a difficult time during this pandemic. They need our support more than ever!

We know that people with autism tend to have difficulty expressing their concerns and fears. If you’re one of the autistic people who are suffering from poor mental health condition during the lockdown and you need advice or emotional support, here is the safe place for you to do so. Please reach out to us as we want to help.

For parents of children with autism who are also struggling, feel free to comment down below to tell us about your struggles and concerns. Share your stories so more people can get to know how we can support families with autistic children through the lockdown.

Please visit the orignal blog post by Maggie Cheng for 3 Little Birds Charity.

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