Saturday night, or the early hours of Sunday morning on 30th – 31st October, in the UK we turn our clocks back one hour.
I’m not sure why, but I always recall the short poem “Time marches on, but falls back” when I recall which way to turn the clock. Of course, the UK has stopped using the term ‘Fall’ replacing it with ‘Autumn’ – but that doesn’t work for the poem to flow!
It’s raining again outside. Broken now and then by some sunlight, but the weather fronts have been bringing torrential rain across the country.
I think back almost two years now to October 2019 and recall how we were all completely oblivious to the pandemic that was about to hit the world. We fell unwell at the beginning of 2020. COVID-19 was still an unspoken of virus, but we believe we had been struck by it. Myself and my wife were seriously unwell for a couple of weeks and our son was affected for nearer six weeks. Only when we had recovered we began to hear of COVID-19. To date, we have lost five family members to this awful virus and as I write this article, three family members are battling the virus, even after being double jabbed.
Throughout 2020 and 2021 we have shielded ourselves as best we could to protect our son who is considered vulnerable. We have all be vaccinated and awaiting our booster jab, sometime – we hope – in November. Flu jabs are scheduled in the next week and we continue to wear face masks when outside.
I’m sure nobody has really understood the impact of lockdown and isolation on many people and the consequences will be realised over the months and even years to come. Our son has amongst other conditions, autism. You may know already that a person with autism will likely need routine and a strict repetitive schedule to follow to allow them to understand and process their way through each day.
At the beginning of 2020 when the first national lockdown was announced, I thought it would not be too bad for our son as he spends a lot of time at home engaged with his regular activities anyway. I had not realised the impact of not going for a small shopping trip with me to the local supermarket. One shopper per trolley was the order. Shops became a focus of infection and so I reduced my shopping trips to once a week only to minimise the risk of infection. Then there was a regular cup of coffee at the local garden centre, now closed. These seemingly little trips were in fact a key part of our sons routine.
We tried to help our son to understand why the sudden changes and using all the techniques and interventions we have learned over the years we had reached a point where that part of his routine had been forgotten, and replaced with something new. Not least, working with me in the garden.
As lockdowns have now eased, and restrictions to our liberty not as stringent as they once were, the reverse of the problems our son had understanding he could not do something as he was able to reengage with the world again. Fear of going outdoors is very real. It’s not just the going out, but the visiting a supermarket or garden centre once again are scary trips for him and as face coverings are still required, our sons apprehension is very real. He prefers to remain isolated and in his words ‘safe’.
In time we will encourage him to do these things with confidence, but it can’t be rushed. The pandemic is certainly not yet over either. There is still a possibility that some degree of restriction could be put back in place. we keep this in mind as we encourage our son as to have all our plans stopped once again will cause significant confusion and anxiety.
We may one day learn to live more safely with this COVID-19 virus as we do with the annual FLU and common cold viruses, but the fall out from the pandemic will last for many years while fragile minds such as our sons gradually, very gradually learn to deal with the changes imposed upon them.
As clocks go back by one hour, I wonder how it would be if we could turn them back two years with all we know now.
If I can offer a thought for you and that is that you, yourself, or a family member, friend or neighbour may be struggling in the same way our son is. Reach out and ask for help if you need to, or reach out offering help to those who do, even if you are ok. A friendly voice may be something that is needed by many right now.