COVID-19 LOCKDOWN WITH A HYPERACTIVE, NON-VERBAL AUTISTIC CHILD... OK, SERIOUSLY: NOW WHAT?
Ok, a note beforehand: although the government of The Netherlands has not yet enforced a full lockdown, several firm measures are in place that have had quite an impact over everyday life. People are pressed to stay at home as much as they can. Outside, social distancing is mandatory. Schools, restaurants, sport facilities and such are closed and being part of a crowd larger than three people can result in a substantial fine. In Holland, the body of these measures is often referred to as an 'intelligent lockdown'.
So what does this mean for me? The most notable change is that all schools -including my school- have shut down until April 28, and perhaps even longer. Since I was attending my special needs class 6 hours per day, 5 days per week, I'm home a lot more than I'm used to.
Traveling is off the table of course, and so are indoor playgrounds, swimming pools and many other places I used to enjoy visiting in my own hometown. Thankfully, the lockdown in place still allows my parents to take me on a stroll or a bike ride, but that's about it.
It must be noted however, that it's still pretty cold in The Netherlands. Spring has only recently set in and we are experiencing the after effects of Winter, with temperatures averaging 12 degrees Celsius in the afternoon and occasionally freezing temperatures at night and early in the morning.
So yep, that's that. I'm home a lot with very few places to go. Want to know how I'm doing? Or maybe even more interesting: how mommy and daddy are doing? Well, continue reading and find out!
LIFE IN THE HOUSE
I've often been compared to an acrobat, Speedy Gonzales or the latest tornado wreaking havoc. I have the energy of 100 kids combined and my battery really doesn't run out fast. I constantly feel the urge to jump, run, climb, shout, spit and since I can't talk yet nor seem to grasp any form of verbal communication, it has no use telling me such behaviour can become a bit overbearing, disruptive or downright annoying. I simply don't understand.
It may not come as a surprise that during normal times mommy and daddy often take me out of the house to places where I can freely give in to my motor impulses, like an indoor playground with trampolines or a swimming pool with lots of slides.
It may also not surprise you that my parents frequently send apologies to our neighbours, since -also in normal times- I obviously spend time at home as well.
They've tried everything from toys, books, TV to iPads, but nothing will keep me playing calmly and behaved for more than a few minutes. In no time, I will be jumping, shouting and throwing stuff across the living room. Yep, that's me. I can't control it. I just have to cause noise and be active. I really don't know any other way to enjoy myself.
During this time of semi-lockdown, this becomes a major struggle for my parents. They have to deal with me being in the house much more than they're used to. It's something they feared might happen for a long time, although they never considered a viral outbreak to be the reason.
So what does a typical day for me look like? Well, mornings are probably the best. When I wake up, the first thing I look for is my iPad and I just like to lie in bed for an hour or so, playing my favorite games. I just figured out Angry Birds, which is kinda cool right?
But the moment I get downstairs, mayhem starts. I replace my beloved iPad for jumping, climbing and shouting, and won't stop until bedtime. I recently discovered spitting and no matter how my parents try to stop me from doing it, it is something I cannot control. Take note I'm very good at it too. I can spit about two meters far through my upper front teeth and it is often compared to the effect of a watergun. Pretty cool, huh?
Mommy and daddy tell me all the time I have to stop doing this, at least inside the house, but I don't know what they are trying to tell me and often I mistake their firm corrections for playing.
So yeah, that's hard for them. Another thing is the travel photos and magnet-wall my parents put up in the living room. That was such a great idea with having a kid like me in the house, right? I'm fascinated by it -obsessed even- and I'm constantly reorganising the magnets my parents collected on our travels. I mean; why didn't they put the cars together in the first place? No worries; I'll do it for them. But wait; I need a ladder to reach them and that ladder needs to be placed on the couch. Oh boy.
We reckon many people will see these pictures and think: 'Why would you allow your child to stand on kitchen stairs like that?!' We get that. The thing is: not allowing me these things will turn the situation from bad to simply unbearable. Believe me: they tried and are still trying, but mommy and daddy are fully aware that they need to give me more space and time than other kids my age.
When I'm not busy in the living room, you'll likely find me upstairs. Since I've discovered how to open windows on my own, I need constant supervision. There is a hammock in the master bedroom, which I greatly enjoy.
And of course, in between all the frustration, the 'No Finn!', the 'Stop Finn!', there are moments where I'm very sweet and easy.
However; three minutes later, it's likely you'll find me here and we start all over again. 'No Finn!'
As you will probably understand, a whole day being inside the house with no place to go, is very demanding and exhausting. Thankfully, even with the current lockdown in place, there a quite a few places I can go.
THE BACK GARDEN
You see me there on my motorcycle? Pretty awesome, right? When the weather allows it, I love to be outside. Well actually; not even a typhoon could stop me from wanting to play outdoors. I love the space, the freedom and all that is to be discovered.
Since mommy and daddy used to spend lots of hours at the gym every week, they have turned our back garden into an outdoor exercise area. Ok, you won't find the high end, well maintained equipment from the local gym, but what you will find is a lot of creativity and perseverance. And while mommy and daddy train outside, I just like to run around and do my own 'personal training'.
Remember that kitchen stairs that kind off freaked you out a few photos back? Well; check this thing out I found in the barn!
STROLLING AND BIKING
Every day, daddy puts me on his bike and we explore our hometown. We live close to the river De Oude Maas and I love to go there and watch huge boats pass.
Being outside is great. I can play with dirt, throw rocks, run, jump and -let's not forget- spit whenever I want to. And when I get tired or hungry, daddy and I take a break and have a snack.
There are many public playgrounds in our hometown and I think I may have seen them all by now. I love them. During this period of coronavirus, it is a bit tricky though and therefore my parents are extra careful. Before entering a playground, mommy disinfects everything with a special sanitiser.
And there is one place left where I could spend some time and that is at daddy's school. Since the school is closed, there are very few people attending it, making it pretty safe and sterile.
Well, daddy always thought his Star Wars collection was safe at his office. Yeah well, think again: I found something very interesting... Daddy's school also has a huge outside playground where I love to hang out.
So that's about it. Although there are some options to spend time outdoors, my own school, swimming pools and indoor playgrounds are surely missed. Or just tagging along when mommy and daddy do a little grocery. It gave a little rascal like me just about the right routine.
Hope everything goes back to normal real soon.