Life in lock-down by our Ambassadors – Phill Wills
My Son Josh is 19 and Autistic. When he was 12, he was hospitalised in Birmingham many miles away from his home here in Cornwall. He stayed there until just after his 15th Birthday.
We fought a very public campaign to get him the care he now has closer to our home. One of the many positive thing’s to come out of our story was that I was asked to be an ambassador for Anna Kennedy. One of my favorite days of the year is the Autism’s Got Talent show.
As I write this, my youngest Son Elliott is about to celebrate his 8th Birthday. A year ago, on his 7th Birthday we were in the St. Ives Kidz R Us Theatre for Autism’s Got Talent.
Surrounded by wonderful people celebrating their talents and supported by people like Katie Price and The Voice winner Molly Hocking.
The evening was full of love, happiness and positivity. Not that we are not positive or lacking love now but what a difference a year makes.
Where do I start with 2020? Did ever really get going? When glasses were raised six months ago on New Year’s Eve who would have thought what was in store? Lock-down is confusing and disorienting for most of us but imagine seeing it through the eyes of someone with autism.
My Son Josh is Autistic and has round the clock care. The only way I can get anywhere near to trying to see the world as it currently is from his eyes is to try and imagine that I fell asleep a year ago and woke up during lock-down.
I then went out without looking at any news. I then find the town I live in deserted. It must be a frightening and confusing place.
Back in March, I went to Josh’s home as I did every Tuesday to cook him a Curry, watch the Simpsons and relax with him for a bit. There was an air of tension around at the time. Nobody quite sure what to expect, people a bit on edge.
Josh was noticing this tension, so it was decided not to talk about Coronavirus in front of him. This Tuesday 17th March was like any other, but little did I know that it would be our last Curry Tuesday for three months.
Everyone’s lives changed on the 23rd March when the Prime Minister announced that we must all stay at home to protect the NHS and to save lives.
We, as a family muddled through the first few weeks, and, as always put our trust in Josh’s carers. They kept him occupied and surrounded by love and attention. The idea of video calling was quashed when he saw me on ITV and was not happy that he could not see me in person!
Josh was asking to come to our home, but unfortunately this could not happen, and we could not visit his home either. It was quite a worrying time, as Josh has done so well in the 4 years since he returned to Cornwall. A lot of people have helped Josh to overcome his personal anxieties help him to forward think and enjoy a life that is his right to have.
Josh was allowed to continue trips out with his team. He visited the beaches of Cornwall. On some occasions he was the only person on the beach. Not something you see every day in Cornwall! There is no doubt that he was missing us as we were him. A lot of work and risk assessing went into preparing a plan to visit Josh again. Finally, after three months I visited Josh’s house again last week.
We have all experienced feelings of worry this year. Everyone has been in the same boat. I want my Children to look back on this time as a time of positivity and bonding, not worry and stress.
Sometimes the latter is easier said than done but with continued support from Family and Friends we have got this far. The road ahead is uncertain, but my advice would be to keep talking to each other, do something that makes you or others smile at least once a day, and to share any worries. Josh has such a wonderful relationship with all of his Siblings and his Nan and Pa. We look forward to them all being reunited one day.
We are lucky that Josh is surrounded by such a hardworking and dedicated team, and we thank all Key Workers for helping to get us and our loved one’s through these strange and uncertain times.
Love to all, love to Autism.