Social Distancing with Robert

March 29, 2020

For the last two weeks Robert has stayed home. His program was temporarily closed as was YMCA and JCC where he swims. His last couple skiing lessons were cancelled as were his horse riding classes. Moreover, I canceled weekly companion hours with Tim, as they involved visits to many community settings.  The life suddenly became very different with closed movie theaters and museums.  Also, trips to stores were out of the question as Robert tendency to fix all misplaced items, turn them to face the front, straighten them, pick them up was contraindicative in times deformed by Covid-19. Even the trip to bank to deposit his check changed. No more going inside to use ATM machine, but driving to the window and passing the check to the teller and not even asking for recite.

Still, there were parks –  Mass Audubon and Trustees of the Reservation. But after ninth day, they closed as well. Now, only  state parks remain. That allows for short daily walks around lunch time.  This is what Robert plans every day – a walk with dad.

However, this is an allergy season for Robert. In the past, we mostly walked by the ocean where there was the least amount of pollen. That helped to calm his sinuses. This is out of the question now.

Given all these changes, Robert is surviving relatively well. Yes, he asked about his program HMEA Employment in Plainville, he asked about riding, skiing, and swimming.  He suggested movie theater and science museum, bank and post office. MOst often he asked for a trip to Cape Cod as he loves Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary in Wellfleet.  He walks during times of low tide on the boardwalk toward wet sand of the bay, sits on the dry dune and breathes calmly the air devoid of pollen. But accepted my response that those places are closed because of the virus.

So now, his plans for the following day, which he keeps making, are reduced to walk and a specific dish for dinner – hamburgers, chicken fingers, potato and cheese, eggplant or poblano.

It did help that almost two weeks before all programs closed, I tried to prepare Robert for that.  Seeing what was happening all over the world, I knew that such closure were imminent.

So every other day, I wrote the text for him to copy.  Doing that was not new, as that was the part of our daily routine.  I wrote something about what has already happened or what was planned to happen in the close future, or something to explain new ideas, and Robert copied the text in the lines below.  The difference was, that two weeks prior to the closure (or maybe even sooner) I started writing that there would be time when Robert would have to stay home.  That the HMEA would be close.  That we would not be able to go to movies or restaurants or museums.  Robert copied slightly anxious.  Usually, after he did, he still wanted to make sure the following day, he would go to HMEA.  And usually, I confirmed that he would still go.

Until, I didn’t.

So now we are home.  Robert, his dad working from home and I.  Only his sister, Amanda, is in Paris, practicing social distancing on her own.

This is not a great time for Robert. He still tries to be occupied.  He folds laundry, he helped baked chocolate chips cookies.  He does, what he very rarely did before – watches TV. Not that he is thrilled.  He sleeps more than before as if that were the best way to adjust to the world that closed itself to us.

Well, still there are board games,Sudoku,  and stationary bike. Maybe when it gets warmer and stops raining we will do some work in the tiny, plastic greenhouse. Maybe.





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