Are you Feeling the Impact of Social Distancing?
Social distancing, although required and essential, has certainly had an impact. Those who have always suffered from the feeling of isolation are really feeling it exponentially now.
For children with special needs, especially those with social issues, this has been nothing less than confusing! I have spent the last 22 years getting my son to converse with others and introducing himself through handshaking. Now ironically, I am training him to maintain 6 feet between himself and others. He needs to avoid elbow pumps unless the person is wearing a mask! He also has to wear gloves and face masks. Jacob has always had issues recognizing facial expressions. However even a smile, which was the one facial expression he did recognize, is now hidden under a sea of masks! Talk about confusing!
Through it all, I had been so caught up in the “rules” of social distancing that I had forgotten how it was making Jacob feel. Suddenly out of nowhere he said, “Mom, I don’t have friends anymore.” It was clear that Jacob’s interpretation of social distancing was that people did not like him. He was now feeling a definite lack of warm fuzzies and fear from people who were trying at all costs to avoid any physical contact with him. He did not know how to interpret it.
We both had to sit down and try to figure out what to do. I can explain social distancing to him, but there is no way I can replace the feeling he got from all the hugs and high fives he used to get!
We both had to make a concerted effort to reach out more to his friends. We are on Skype a lot and he is talking with friends daily which is helping. We take our walks and runs after lunch so he sees a greater number of people along the way. Most are not wearing masks when they are running or biking. Fortunately, people are keeping their 6 foot distance but many are responding with a “hello” and smile to his gestures. When we do go for groceries, I try to get in a line with a more talkative and responsive cashier so he can converse with them. I am trying to make the most of every social contact we do have.
It is not just our kids either. My mother is in an assistive living situation and they are not allowing guests in the building, so she has no visitors. The social events they had planned daily are now minimal as well. She feels lonely and talks about how the days just drag.
Social distancing does remove us physically from others, but at the same time, it gives us more time to be creative and reach out to let others know we care!
Please take the time to reach out to others but also share below what you are doing to help your children and others through social distancing! We could all use some creativity with this new phenomenon!
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