Family activities at Bendrigg during the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Whittingham Family
The pandemic has been a stressful & emotional time for most, but I want to share the impact of the pandemic on my son who has Autism and ADHD. Having to socially isolate has had a huge knock on effect on my son’s overall happiness, motivation and self esteem.
My son has major difficulties with social integration and social communication. The importance of being included in groups in order to improve these skills, to feel included, to try new opportunities, to exercise, are so beneficial for his Autism and ADHD. Unfortunately any groups he attended, suddenly shut in March 2020 with very short notice including his school. Some groups have not been able to reopen, or have closed for good and 1-1 support with his carer stopped. My sons wellbeing has deteriorated because of the loss of support which is aimed at increasing his independence and confidence through social, recreational and leisure activities within the local community.
The lockdown was sudden, there was no time to prepare for the disruption and change in routine. We were suddenly isolated. Being autistic he finds social integration and communication very difficult – all the services and activities to help him with these skills stopped. He no longer was included, no longer able to develop and improve these key skills, and no longer able to feel empowered.
Every time the rules change it causes great confusion and conflict which results in fear, anxiety & frustration. We live in the countryside and normally see very few people, but when the restrictions lifted, suddenly there was an influx of people passing our home. No way were we able to go for a walk, he feared we would have to pass people in the narrow lanes and felt very vulnerable and anxious.
Being active in the outdoors has always aided in my son being able to re-focus and enjoy all of the benefits to wellbeing through being in the outdoors in the sunlight and fresh air.
Bendrigg rose to the challenge facing Covid 19 to create worthwhile outdoor experiences through creative problem solving and provided amazing opportunities that are very satisfying in meeting my sons needs.
Going to Bendrigg gave my son the opportunity to get outdoors again, somewhere he felt safe. It gave him a great sense of freedom not being controlled by the environment, virus and people around him. I believe it was a massive achievement for him in the face of adversity.
The activities seemed to have an immediate positive effect. Not only was it great for him to be active which helps us to have a healthier mind and body. His confidence was brimming, he was being more independent and was able to make choices with little prompting. He wasn’t clingy or hesitant, initiated conversation with the instructors (he says the staff at Bendrigg are always friendly and supportive) and within our support bubble we shared excitement and had lots to talk about regarding the activities, offering peer support, encouragement and even some healthy competition. The whole day had such a great sense of fun, I hadn’t seen my son laugh, smile, have fun and be at total ease for months.
Through preparation, we felt safe and reassured in being able to give my son these new experiences and challenges. We were able to take part in a great range of activities in a safe & secure way – meeting the Covid 19 government requirements.
The activities at Bendrigg have had a lasting positive impact on my son, that will last a life time. I’m sure many will remember their time at Bendrigg during the Pandemic.