My sister, Jane, is 43 years old and was diagnosed as an adult with Aspergers, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and binocular non-convergence. Jane takes a little longer to process information and to communicate. She understands things very literally, finding body language, tone and sarcasm almost impossible to comprehend. She struggles to recognise or admit when things aren’t working or are broken. Despite these difficulties she is a happy, sociable, caring and fun person.
Jane lives in semi-independently in her own flat. She is busy. Her normal week consists of volunteering, personal training, going to church, choir, music and dance workshops in addition to many Winchester Go LD activities: drop-ins, funky lunch, afternoon teas and low level circuit training.
Coronavirus and lock-down has put a stop to almost all of Jane’s normal activities. Our parents need to be shielded from coronavirus, so contact with them is limited to speaking on the phone. Jane has moved temporarily from her flat to live with me. Here I can provide her with companionship, stability, a routine (of sorts) and practical support.
It has been difficult for both of us adjusting to living together. My house is small and we have both needed to compromise. I am discovering when to be bossy and when I need to allow mistakes to happen. Poor spatial awareness presents added difficulty in terms of social distancing. I have a deeper understanding about what works and what doesn’t in Jane’s world. Jane tends to hide these issues. She gets very cross very quickly; she also recovers from anger very quickly. Gathering information from her is confusing and irritating for both of us. Her recently broken mobile phone is our best example. Jane now has a new a smartphone. Teaching her how to use this has been a project of success and frustration in equal measures. Now she is relatively successful at texting and video calling her Winchester Go LD friends.
My home is a hub for Jane’s virtual activities. Every room is used for Jane’s virtual activities. Winchester Go LD continues to be incredible at maintaining friendships, routine, a sense of normality and care. They have adapted quickly and effectively by running a number of regular Zoom video group chats. While acknowledging Jane’s invasion to my space it’s difficult not to feel proud and a bit envious of this new world of interaction and technology that she embraces so well.
Lock-down is a hugely challenging time, we are lucky to have the amazing team of staff at Winchester Go LD to support us and to give structure to our days. The WhatsApp group, website and facebook pages have kept us informed, the Zoom video chats have entertained us and both Jane and I are hugely grateful to be part of such a fantastic local learning disability community.
Betty, Jane’s sister