Home workouts and trying to find a routine: My lockdown living with autism

Credit: Andrew Edwards

35-year-old Andrew Edwards from Wrexham is one of the estimated 34,000 people in Wales living with autism.

ITV Cymru Wales asked him to tell us about how he has adapted to the changes to his routine necessitated by the coronavirus lockdown.

“When the Coronavirus was starting to take a hold on society in early March, I was in total denial about the whole situation as I saw my regular daily autistic routine and social life taken away piece-by-piece in the days leading up to 23rd March.

"It was a really difficult initial thought process to take in that I would not be able to see dozens of people I care about for an undisclosed period as I am a very sociable person with many close mates.

"It really would have been better for my autism to process and compartmentalise if the lockdown came in straight away, rather than bit-by-bit.

Credit: Andrew Edwards

"When the lockdown was looming on Monday 23rd March, as it had become inevitable that a lockdown would happen, as a family we took an inventory of what gym training equipment we had. This was to help me to have any semblance of a routine.

"I am extremely fortunate to be able to train all the time with the great equipment at home. My personal trainer “Hibbo” has helped an awful lot in helping me stay more resilient than I hitherto thought myself to be.

"My sister Melanie, who luckily lives next door to myself and our mother, Hazel, also helps greatly by taking me for a walk most days, although sometimes I haven’t always been the best of company.

"Most days we have a laugh walking in the countryside in Moss Valley near our home in Wrexham which we are lucky to have. She has been unwaveringly positive, which helps most of the time, yet realistic, honest and clear in her communication, especially the latter.

"Although my mental health fluctuates badly at certain times, sometimes daily, as I sometimes can’t come to terms with this whole situation.

"Nonetheless, I still have a lot more to be thankful for than most. I can’t overemphasise this. At this awfully difficult time, we must take solace in whatever little positivity we can find and that is what I try to do, although it is far from easy. Even when lockdown abates, I intend to go back to my “regular” routine incrementally as anything else for my autism.

Credit: Andrew Edwards
  • What advice would you give to other people living with Autism who are struggling to adapt to lockdown?

"The best tips that I can impart for those with autistic family members is to keep some semblance of routine.

"This might be by going for a walk locally every day. I am blessed here in North East Wales to be surrounded by lovely countryside.

"Just remember to stay within walking distance though of your locale. I have rediscovered how beautiful my locality actually is, which I have always been cynical about a lot of my hometown.

"My own personal advice regarding homeschooling is not to make it too structured as you are parents, guardians or carers and not schoolteachers. I think something project based every week or fortnight that would harness the interests or knowledge base of the autistic person would be better than trying to replicate education.

"Remember all people attending any academic institution is in the same position and no one will be falling behind. Try to keep them motivated with a project though on a subject that will get them enthused and stimulated".

  • What advice would you give to your pre-lockdown self?

"I would tell myself to not feel entitled, not to expect and make do and mend more. There are plenty of ways to enjoy life that don’t involve rushing around every minute of the day. To cherish the small items of pleasure in life that doesn‘t involve being privileged from a first world nation.

"To be more kinder to everyone, especially my family and those worse off than I. Also, just appreciate everyone and not to take what I do in life, be it socially or day to day living, for granted.

“I have realised not to worry so much over matters out of my control or more trivial occurrences, that may have been seen to be more important before lockdown.

"Just cherish each day - none of us know what the future may bring".

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