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  1. ITV Report

Autism Awareness Day: How are families coping on lockdown?

5-year-old Chloe has autism and is non-verbal making life extremely challenging for her. Credit: ITV News

The UK lockdown will be proving a stressful time for most families, not least the parents of children with autism and other special needs.

Many children who have autism struggle with changes to their daily routines and have a restricted diet, meaning that stockpiling could cause difficulties for parents trying to find a specific food for their child.

Finding a new normal for autistic families in lockdown

Five-year-old Chloe already finds life challenging, she has severe autism and learning difficulties and is non-verbal.

The loss of her usual daily routine and structure means her family now spend most of their time in one room trying to keep her calm and occupied.

Candice, Chloe's mum, is also struggling to find food that Chloe will eat.

She said: "She likes to eat the same type of food which is pasta and chicken nuggets and we can never get them anymore when we go to the shop."

She added: "Chloe doesn't understand a thing about what is happening right now.

"She doesn't understand why she is being locked inside the house.

"Why we are not able to go outside on a normal day when it is nice and sunny to the park and why we can't go around people and why we can't be around anyone else other than our family that's inside the house."

Karen has three children who all have autism. Credit: ITV News

Karen Ryan has three grown-up children, who all have autism.

Two of them are living at home and her husband has been told that he has to stay at home for the next 12 weeks.

She's worried about how her daughter, Carly, will cope with the lockdown: "Carly can have meltdowns especially with things like the internet and I'm thinking everyone is at home, they're either working or for recreation and my biggest fear is what happens if that internet goes down?

"In the past if we lost the internet for a tiny bit she would say I'm going to call the ambulance, I'm going to phone 999 so then you explain so that is one of my biggest fears."

Karen and Carly say that they are just going to take things one day at a time and hope there are more good days than bad.

If you're struggling you can visit the National Autistic Society for advice and guidance.

  • Video chat with Jane Harris from the National Autistic Society