Lockdown is a real test for all of us as it challenges the way in which we are used to living . Our freedoms are truly curtailed and even though we know why it is all necessary – the daily death tolls are a sobering enough reminder – we are having to re-think how we live. We can no longer be as spontaneous as we once were as we have to plan our rare trips to the shops, plan our meals to minimise waste, make a concerted effort to stay in touch with those we care about and work with and even plan how we are going to use our daily exercise time. I wonder to what extent, when this is all over, which elements of this new life we will maintain and how much we will slide back into our old ways?
But I would like you to spare a thought for what it is like to have a learning disability, so that you cannot understand this rapid and dramatic change of lifestyle that is all you have ever known all of your life: One day you are in school, with your friends and the staff who you love being with and you come home to Yorkshire Grandma who has your evening meal ready, then the next day you no longer go to school, but you spend everyday at home with your parents and Yorkshire Grandma has disappeared from your life, but you do not know why. You have never seen so much of Mum and Dad, who rarely leave the house nowadays either, in fact they are the only people you have seen, in person, for a month now. Mum and Dad spend time sitting looking at or talking to screens, but if you slam doors loudly enough, they will come to see you. You may need your favourite DVD re-starting as that concert has played through once already or to read your familiar books, but day after day, even they start to lose their shine.
The highlights of your weekends are two sociable treats : pushing a trolley around Tesco and lunch in a cafe, or Donalds if you are really lucky. But suddenly, these ‘trips’ out no longer take place. You get excited when you put your splints and boots on, only to be disappointed : you are either bundled into a wheelchair for a walk up the lane with the dogs , which was fun on the first few days but is now getting to be tiresome. Or if you are lucky, you are taken out in the car, which gives you hope that this might be a longed for ‘trip’! But even car trips have taken on a new meaning as you are never allowed out at any final destination and they seem only to entail picking up shopping, with maybe a detour around some country lanes, then straight back home, after which you are made to wash your hands like never before.
We are fortunate that Joshua is pretty adaptable, he does not become too distressed by a change in routine, despite his frustrations, but he has no option but to accept his new reality. I know he misses social interaction more than anything. But for now, we will have to suffice. I never fail to be delighted by his beaming smile each morning when he wakes, even though he must be thinking ‘Oh no, not you again!’. I try not to think too far ahead, to worry about the uncertainty of the future, but instead to focus on each day at a time and simply do the best we can. The priority for now has to be keeping each other safe and being grateful for what we have.