Planet Rachael: what’s new about our COVID-19 world?
Wendy Johnson observes that restrictions during the pandemic are all too familiar to a neuroatypical person, like her daughter Rachael
By the time this column is read we will either be in the throes of, or coming out of, the world-changing pandemic that is COVID-19.
I trust and pray that you and your loved ones have remained safe at this time of challenge and uncertainty.
With the trainers gathering dust in the hallway and the overseas holiday brochures in the bin, like me I am sure you have had much time to reflect on the life you have lived to now, on the freedoms you took for granted, what used to be important – but now isn’t – and what value you bring to this world.
While the world shifts on its axis, Rachael appears firmly on terra firma
At a time where fear and uncertainty has driven people to fight in the aisles for that last toilet roll or, in my case to hoard hair dye, Rachael has taken it all in her stride.
Everyone else I know feels like the world has shifted on its axis, while Rachael appears to be firmly on terra firma and whistling Dixie. When I asked her if she wanted to ride it out with me she advised me she ‘couldn’t think of anything worse’ and ‘will be fine’.
‘I hope for a new ‘normal’ post COVID-19 for people like Rachael, where the decision-makers, who have now walked in the shoes of those they support, provide services that support one of social inclusion and choice’
Reflecting on why her reaction would be so I have concluded it is because this shrunken world that is so alien and unfamiliar to you and I is the normal lot for neuroatypical person such as Rachael.
By shrunken world I mean the forced social isolation we are all experiencing, people telling capacitated adults what do to and how to behave, having choices limited and frames of reference diminished, needing information in a straightforward and accessible format, and managing the mental health impact of loneliness.
More rational and in control than the rest of us put together
This has been the only life Rachael has known and she is therefore more in control and rational at this point than all the rest of us put together.
I hope for a new ‘normal’ post COVID-19 for people like Rachael, where the decision-makers, who have now walked in the shoes of those they support, provide services that support one of social inclusion and choice.
Wendy Johnson is head of safeguarding adults at risk and nursing lead for learning disabilities at Great Western Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Swindon. She writes about life with her daughter Rachael, who has autism
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