Staying at home is the most recommended and sensible way to stay away from the COVID-19 disease. But those with autistic children face great difficulties these days, as such children are restless at home, and all public recreational centres are closed.
Autistic patients need to expend their energy; otherwise, they can create troubles and damages. Staying in a small apartment from morning to night is a prison sentence for these people.
Most people with autism get nervous and engage in violence if they stay indoors for a few hours. They inadvertently hurt themselves and their families. Home appliances are usually not safe. Most of them love to go out and vent their excitement.
Of course, autism comes in many forms, from mild to severe. The situation is a little easier for the first group, but the second group’s situation is more difficult.
The bad news for the families of these patients was the closure of all entertainment centres in the country over the outbreak of coronavirus. However, an institute and a charitable family have made it possible for people with Down syndrome to gather together in a villa in Karaj, west of Tehran. This helps the families with autistic children to be less worried these days.
A mother with an autistic kid says “On the first day of Nowruz, my son was upset that he was staying at home, he threw pasta sauce and the house got dirty. When he fell asleep, we just started cleaning the house.”
Now, they have sent their son to the Karaj camp for a few days. The photos and videos of the laughter of their child in the social media group of the institute wipe their fatigue away.
Leila Nematollahi, an instructor at the Saberin Autism Institute, says since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, parents frequently call and express concern.
“Our institute is not a boarding one, and is located in Razi Park (in southern Tehran). The park was great for leisure. The programs we had every day optimally expended the energy of people with autism. When they returned home, they were calm and could easily sleep.”
However, she said, due to the coronavirus, their presence in the park was banned despite the great efforts I made. There was not even an alternative place for them. Programs had to be cancelled, but online training continued. We received a lot of messages from the parents during this time, saying it was difficult for them to stay home with the autistic child round the clock.
“One of the parents, who had a large villa in Karaj near Tehran, informed us that they had disinfected the whole place for the sake of the children. They kindly invited us to take the children there free of charge. All that remained was the honorarium of the trainer and the cost of the food that the parents paid for. The kids stayed there in two shifts from March 20 to April 3. The good news is that we can send the next groups back to the camp after Nowruz.”
“We love our children devotedly, but the fact is that it’s hard to keep autistic people under normal circumstances, let alone during the Corona pandemic,” said the mother of one of the kids.
“I really enjoyed the love of these parents for our children. When I saw how they were disinfecting every corner of the place, I was shocked. Maybe I wouldn’t have done it myself if I had the opportunity. We really thank them. I’m glad to see my son happy, healthy, calm and joyful in the photos and videos sent from the villa in Karaj,” she added.
Maryam Ahmadinia, who is the mother of a 25-year-old autistic person, talks about their provisions during the COVID-19 epidemic.
“My son has skin allergies, I can’t wash or disinfect his hands all the time. We drove him out for the first few days. Sometimes he would get off the car. These kids love fun and curiosity. I have respiratory problems. I hoped he would not be infected because he did not wear mask or use disinfecting gel. I was under a lot of stress. We kept him at home for a few days, and he broke most of the household appliances. When he was upset, I told his brother to go into his room and lock the door. Finally, this camp saved us.”
Dr Mansoorian is a radiologist and father of his 20-year-old autistic son Bamdad. Far from the family and unaware of the bad news, he and his friends spent Nowruz holidays in Karaj. The father is sure of the sanitary arrangements of Karaj Villa and, of course, before that, his heart is warmed by the love of this charitable family.
“It’s a big villa. Each of these children has a room. They have gone in two shifts so that all the children can enjoy while there is no crowd,” he said.