Coronavirus has attacked all humans in the world, to some physically and the rest of us mentally and socially. The epidemic has changed everyone’s routine and life. The sufferings of thousands of migrant workers who were part of our nation-building went unheard. In such a situation just imagine the fate of the special kids who are deprived of their routine. Here is a glimpse of the life of such a child Thara who lives with Autism.

Thara was screaming untiringly! It was like the midnight nonstop howls of the street dogs at once, disturbing everyone’s sleep for hours. she was irritated and irritating her parents and others around. It was difficult to contain her tantrums and soothe her.  Savitha, being her mother, found it difficult to find out what troubled her child. Helplessness surged all over her. She had already tried most methods to console her, but nothing worked. She felt guilty for not being able to understand and manage her adorable daughter, Thara. Why was she behaving like this?

Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

 She finally tried to ignore her and went into the kitchen to continue her work. Thara’s screams reduced to sobs and after half an hour there was silence. She checked and realised that Tara was tired of screaming and had fallen asleep.

Savitha was pondering, why there was so much of turmoil? She had provided everything Thara wanted, she had hugged, and pampered her. But she had not explained why everyone is staying at home. She thought Thara would not understand lockdown or COVID -19.

It was the sudden lockdown that troubled her and her friends, fellow mothers of special kids. After the COVID-19 lockdown, there was truly little left to enjoy, and this uncertainty seemed eternal.  Everyone had to adjust and live with whatever was available. Less opened shops with long queues and limited stock. Uncertainty of job delayed and limited salaries… With so many worries of survival, Thara was adding her tantrums too. The only grace was that her dad worked from home and shared many of her responsibilities.

 Lockdown had changed everyone’s life. And Thara too had missed her routine. She used to enjoy the auto ride to school and back home which had stopped completely. She missed her school and all the activities, her friends, her Teachers, and her homework. The whole life had become meaningless and worthless. She felt she was tied up at home. Her usual evening park visit was cancelled. With systematic guidance by the school and her own great effort, she had learnt to visit malls, the marketplace, shopping centres, weddings, parties, functions, and many other places. She was highly appreciated by all for her good behaviour at these places. Her Teachers and friends had clapped for her at school, she had even earned a star on the chart displayed on the notice board. Now she felt all of these had vanished, it seemed forever.

She felt angry at her Mother, Father, and everything around her. She felt like throwing, tearing, and breaking things, pulling hair, beating, and pinching her parents for restricting her. She could not stop herself from doing such destructive acts. She could not understand why everything changed suddenly. The worst part was, she could not explain what she was going through to them, she felt like blaming Amma and Appa. They cared for her for all these days, now suddenly why did they stop? She wondered why Teachers did not call her Mother and ask them to send her to school.

 She had fallen asleep after the big break down. The ring tone of her mother’s phone woke her up. She took the phone which was on the table and ran to her mother, like a stone from the catapult saying “po, po..” There was a call from the school suggesting them to attend the online classes that they would conduct. Savitha felt a sense of relief and agreed to attend the online classes.

The next morning at 10 AM three Teachers were online, Savitha, Thara and Thara’s father Manoj joined them. Thara was so excited to see her Teachers. The first day was a trial class with an introduction and the reason for such classes to be conducted was explained. Thara was nodding her head in acceptance. Savitha was not sure about how much Thara understood. The next day’s schedule and the needed materials to be kept ready were explained.

Initially, Thara was not ready to accept therapies to be done at home. She believed that therapies and other class activities must be conducted only at school. She tried to run away and showed her disagreement to take therapies from her Mother or Father. She made her limbs stiff and was non-cooperative. She was given timely incentives of eatables of her choice. Encouraging words and appreciations from Teachers made her gradually cooperate. Savitha gradually understood how much Thara was able to grasp and follow instructions. She was astonished to see the cognitive skills of her daughter and how much she pretended not to follow the instructions that were given to her at home before.

During online sessions Teachers taught parents, how to be assertive, when to give incentive, how to give an instruction, how to appreciate soon after the completion of a given task, when to ignore, when to provide what they liked, not to fulfil their needs when they throw tantrums, but fulfil them only when they are polite and nice.

All these fine learnings empowered parents to handle their children in a better way. It was like knowing each other better. Within a month, parents started feeling confident, comfortable, and happy. Thara now needed a little support to do all the activities perfectly.

Thanks to technology which has enabled Teachers to provide training from their lockdown homes into the lockdown homes of the children. This surely strengthens and supports parents and saves the child from regression. In these uncertain times, Thara was once again prepared to face the next day.