As many states open up and do away with mask mandates, special needs families are trying to find a safe way to get back to normal. Struggling with a lack of in-person therapies and services, many families have seen their children reject or not benefit from the online options offered. The isolation of quarantine has affected the mental health of the general population, but special needs families are contending with the regression of behaviors and skills in their children due to a change in routine and lack of services, plus the lack of outside help and respite.
While some families are ready to place their children back in school or in out patient therapy, parents of medically fragile children must still consider the risk of COVID, and the inconsistent precautions taken from location to location. Regulations put in place to stop the spread of COVID have made routine and emergency medical visits even more complicated and stressful, and for children who needed to undergo surgery in the last year, families have struggled with keeping one parent bedside, while juggling the demands of home life with little or no outside assistance. Vaccines are currently only approved for those 16 or 18 and older, and in many states, unless a parent themselves is at risk or works in a specific industry they are not eligible for the vaccine simply because they are a caregiver of a special needs child, regardless of the child’s risk factors.
It has been a long year, and for many of us, the future is still uncertain. We are navigating uncharted territory, where every outing or social interaction is questioned. We will eventually come out on the other side, but it will take longer for us then our non-special needs friends, and we will be different than we were a year ago. I asked special needs parents on Facebook and Instagram how their family life has changed for better or worse, during quarantine.