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Coping with COVID: Aussie Autism Family

Coping with COVID: Aussie Autism Family.

As COVID becomes more prevalent, the chances of us contracting it are more likely. But what are the practicalities of the situation if an entire family is affected, especially for those caring for young children and children with special needs? We spoke to Jess, of Aussie Autism Family, about her experience.

Coping with COVID: Aussie Autism Family
Jess and Jacob.
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The diagnosis

Jess lives with her husband Jordan and their two children in New South Wales. Their eldest, Jacob, is 5 years old and has autism, and Jazz, their daughter, is 3 years old and neurotypical. Following Christmas in 2021, Jess and her husband received word that the someone in the family was a close contact and they took their family to a drive-thru PCR test station.

Coping with Covid

Survival Mode -Coping with Covid

Following the test the family all started experiencing various symptoms, and then the positive results came through. The children didn’t suffer too  much but Jess and Jordan were very unwell for the first couple of days with a mild cough, sore throat, fatigue and body aches. Unprepared for illness and a week of isolation, the pair went into survival mode. They took turns looking after the kids in 2 hourly blocks so that the other could sleep, and utilised screen time and snacks to get them through. Whilst their family was too far away to help, Jess said they have amazing neighbours who dropped groceries to them.

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Entertaining during isolation

Coping with COVID: Aussie Autism Family
, “We tried anything to keep the kids happy”

Once they were feeling a little better, Jess’ family had to deal with the difficult task of staying home. As an active child, Jacob struggled to understand why he couldn’t go out and took his frustrations out on the walls of the house. Jess said, “We tried anything to keep the kids happy”. They set up their blow up pool outside next to a swing set and trampoline, organised sensory tables and play, blew up balloons, and FaceTimed family and friends.

Advice for others

Jess’ advice to other parents is to check Pinterest for activities and stock your cupboard now. If you have to isolate, it would be ideal to have a new activity for the kids each day. If you order anything online during your isolation period, it may not reach you in time.

Support needed

As a family with an autistic child, Jess has highlighted some ways in which they could be supported further. She would like to see exemptions or a different process for testing, as it was traumatic for Jacob, with a worker having to hold him while he was tested. Jess would explain that Jacob is autistic and non verbal, and the workers were kind but not specifically trained to support people like him. Jess also identified that some sort of respite for parents would be wonderful, even after the week of isolation. Jess’ family came to help them afterwards but for those who do not have this option, support from the Government in the form of childcare or a support worker would be appreciated.

Follow Aussie Autism Family

Jess, understandably, did not have time to update her vlog whilst unwell with COVID but found solace in her social media community afterwards as people shared their similar experiences.

You can find Aussie Autism Family on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

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