Coronavirus: Lockdown 2020 with a Special Needs Child

You are probably expecting me to be one of those extremely organised parents with a full structured timetable and a routine. I wish that were true! Here we are, Covid-19 or coronavirus as it is also known, we are in self-isolating mode and lockdown with a special needs child. Didn’t see that on my list of 2020.

Our Lockdown Routine

Coffee Cup and Laptop
But First Coffee

We are trying to keep a sense of routine and structure with a walk late in the morning in Thomas’ pushchair around our area, lunch at 1 pm, an afternoon walk between 3 – 4 pm on Thomas’ bike, and Alana comes too. We have a quick ride around the block.

A child with cerebral palsy has the energy to burn, and we realised very early on that he’s not tired enough without school. So we pushed his bedtime back to 9.15 pm. This has helped to some degree. So fresh air walk in the morning and our exercise and bike in the afternoon for kids exercise.

The School Issue

Homeschooling is not for the faint-hearted. People who choose to do that are brave. I would never have considered it for my children had it not been down to the coronavirus.

I want to say that every morning I have sat with Thomas, and we have read a book. With the best intentions, I have investigated how to structure ‘school’ time into his day. Thomas never was one for learning things at home.

He has this old book that has to pull up flaps to reveal objects. It was Alana’s, so it’s ancient and falling apart, but he loves pointing at the ball, toast and things he recognises, so I invested in a new book. Thomas reads it every night before bed, and we are using it to aid his verbalisation which is still messy.

It’s all about the ‘C’ Words

Now, I know how that sounds. Thomas is an extremely chatty boy, but sometimes he doesn’t verbalise, and we get ‘ca’ for everything, but if you dig deeper, you can hear so much more. So if being at home with Thomas has taught us one thing, it’s how desperate he is to be heard.

I am using everyday objects and repeating it so he knows, that he needs to get his bowl or plate. His understanding is there enough that if you say ‘get your shoes’ he will get his shoes. He has been saying a word recently that we can’t understand. “Balloo,” we thought it was a balloon but he’s been saying “Gaggooo,” as well. I’m sure it will come eventually. Maybe we should teach him how to say coronavirus? hahaha.

His top words are:

  1. Car
  2. Can’t
  3. Class
  4. Gone
  5. Come
  6. In there
  7. There
  8. No no
  9. Nana
  10. Gag or Gaggy (Daddy)
  11. Mama
  12. Coke
  13. Cup
  14. Glass
  15. Bike
  16. Go
  17. Peppa
  18. George
  19. Choc (Chocolate)
  20. In (Dinner)
  21. Gard (Garden)
  22. Poo
  23. Ball
  24. Bowl
  25. Ooon (Spoon)
  26. Cake
  27. Granda (Grandad)

I’m convinced that in his head, it sounds differently. There are more but these are the most constant.

Structured Play

Kid painting on white table
Attempting Structured Play

I guess if you’d told me in January that I would be spending most of 2020 attempting to home school a child with an EHCP who attends a special school, I would have probably told you that you were insane. But here we are. It also looks like the government are digging their heels regarding making any decisions this side of June. I suppose they have to make the right decision.

I have social media posts coming out of my ears talking about structured play vs non-structured. Now, both my children have always relied on structured, adult-led play. Still, it got me thinking about the benefits to a child with special needs and found Very Well Family and an article written by Amanda Rock and the benefits of structured play. It is definitely worth a read.

I Salute You

Being a parent to a special needs child means that I am lucky enough to have ‘normal’ mummy friends who seem to have this whole thing down with maths in the morning and movies in the afternoon (I envy you), and then I have the parents who I have lucky get to know through my son’s school. The parents who understand it more than most when your child doesn’t want to put clothes on, don’t want to eat their lunch, or sit still for more than five minutes feels like a chore.

We are all in this together.

Coronavirus: Being Furloughed

I sighed a little with relief this week when I was officially furloughed at the end of my six-month contract for at least three weeks. It hasn’t been easy juggling part-time work with homeschooling, and I wasn’t doing either very well.

It has now helped me to focus on what I need to do to keep my family motivated. I also feel it will give me time to explore some of my own hobbies. As I’m not sure about you but doesn’t it, currently feel that days are just blending into the next one?

Words of Encouragement

I’m all out of top tips at the moment, my brain is constantly on overdrive but I do have a few words of encouragement.

Light board and laptop
Some Encouraging Words
  1. Your kids don’t care if you spend your day in your pj’s, stuffing your face with chocolate or every day is movie day! They love having you there, and they will remember Coronavirus 2020 as the year they got to spend extra time with their parents.
  2. Honestly, I suck at being a teacher, which has affirmed my belief that I don’t have the patience. I have felt like a failure so many times, but it’s okay. I am neither paid nor qualified to be a teacher, so if I take three hours longer, then so be it. The same goes for all the other parents out there; two hours baking a cake is just as productive as practising spellings.
  3. Don’t feel guilty for taking some ‘alone’ and ‘me’ time. My current escape is a long, hot bubble bath or a good book. Even if it’s just a quick ten minutes, it can do the world of good.

If you find yourself with a spare five minutes I do have some blog posts that are quick and easy to read.

  1. When was the last time you considered your child’s mental health
  2. How Accessible is Paultons Park
  3. Navigating Legoland with a disabled child

It’s hard, no one could have predicted that 2020 we would be attempting to home school while having to social distance and have little or no support from the outside world. We will get through this, things will change in a way we probably never thought possible.

Please comment below if maybe you’ve had the coronavirus? Maybe you are scared of getting the virus? maybe you are struggling, are embracing this extra time with your children or you are counting down the days to school returns?

Stay Safe Everyone

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