The Gap Year

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I had planned to write a blog at the end of my autistic youngest’ gap year (see here: A Gap Year…..). one that was full of photos of adventures they had, all the achievements, all the discoveries, the difficulties overcome, the fun….

We had planned on visiting various museums, exhibitions and Expos. We planned on visiting friends and maybe even different cities in the UK. We had plans…

The King Tutankhamen exhibition was incredible…

Then the pandemic hit…

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.co

Well, that changed things completely. suddenly we are in a very strange new world. A world were terms like lockdown, PPE, “wash your hands”, “keep your distance” and face masks are the new normal. I have to admit, things have been scary. But in our home, adapting to online living has come quite easy.

We are privileged, we have good internet and a screen for all four of us. So we were used to online shopping and certainly communicating with friends and family online. My kids (I say this as one is 19 and the other is 21 years old) are gamers. They built and rebuilt their own PCs and have been online since they were young, albeit with parental oversight and scheduled time away from the computers until they became adults.

While I hear my friends and people online talk about the changes and how they are struggling working, studying, living from home; I look at my own family and realise that actually in this moment, we are lucky. I know many are struggling badly. I know juggling children, home and work is hard as it is without these restrictions due to the pandemic that is literally killing millions world wide. I understand the anxiety you feel about the future, about your career, education of your children, paying the bills, health of your parents, etc.. I understand because that was my life pre pandemic. That is the life of any and all SEND Parents/Autistic Parents/Neurodivergent parents of SEND/ Autistic/Neurodivergent children.

I don’t say that for pity. it is reality and as I’ve said, I consider myself lucky right now. I say that to highlight the other side of a family that you probably have living in your street. I am lucky. I cannot stress that enough. But there are other families, families without the best internet. families without a screen (computer) for every person living there. Families where getting out of the home was a relief from the abuse, harassment, neglect. Families that have fallen through the net of financial support, not knowing where the next meal is coming from. I know this. So I am Lucky.

My 21 year old easily moved from working in the city to working from home. Being into tech anyway, he already had most of the equipment needed. He is in front of that computer when not working anyway, gaming and chatting to friends, so it was no big switch to working from home. He was most definitely happy when his company told them they were most likely going to keep some working from home. My partner works for himself, and most of his work if not admin is appointments. Again, working from home came easy. A bit of skilling up in video calls and utilising videos into his work was all it took.

My youngest, the 19 year old who recently had a Gap Year…. Just a reminder, the gap year was to take a much needed break from formal education and skill up on personal goals. The goals included confronting exposure anxiety (“The excruciating sense of audience to one’s own existence”: Donna Williams) by going out more locally as well as exploring other interests including visits to museums, exhibitions, expos, etc. This was to prepare before embarking on a college course. We found the right college with the right course in media. We visited once without our youngest and once with. Then the pandemic and lockdown happened. Obviously when lockdown was lifted educational establishments were coping with the repercussions of the lock down. So, we never had a chance of transitioning our youngest into college as we would have normally.

Time went on, the decision made, our youngest enrolled online for the course in August. So, I really wish I had all those photos of all those memories that were intended for this blog post but we live in unprecedented times….

Stay tuned for the next blog post called “College” 🙂

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