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The Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted lives across the entire world. Here we are sharing real life examples of challenges autistic people and their families are facing. We will keep adding to this page as you continue to share and the pandemic continues.

If you want to share your story, email stories@nas.org.uk

Our stories so far...

Pencil iconVictoria's story

Pencil iconBen's story

Pencil iconConnor M's story

Pencil iconJake's story

Pencil iconAutisticPb's story

Pencil iconIan's story

Pencil iconRobin's story

Pencil iconMolly's story

Pencil iconAiden's story

Pencil iconCharis' story

Pencil iconAmy's story

Pencil iconMark's story

Pencil iconJohn's story

Pencil iconConnor's story

Please note that these stories reflect government guidance at the time of writing and publication.

Victoria, 28, Manchester

I’m finding the lack of routine difficult. Even if I try and create a structure, I just can’t stick to it. Honestly, I didn’t have much of a structure before the lockdown, but I had things in place which kept me on track. I have my own weekly visual timetable so I can see everything I have planned for the week. I’m also using a personal diary which I check daily. This has somewhat helped, although my routine is less strict than usual. I’m starting to accept this change, but it has taken me some time to adjust.

I normally don’t mind staying home, but right now there’s a difference: choice. I do not have the freedom to choose. A man in a fancy suit is telling me to stay at home. Luckily, I am able to go for runs. This is one of the things keeping me sane. The running coaches from my club are organising plenty of virtual exercises to keep us all going. I’ve also started to meditate and participate in yoga. Doing this before bed helps me sleep. It calms me down after a long dreary day and allows me to focus on something other than my intrusive thoughts.

I’m also ensuring I have time for the things I love, including self-care - lots of baths, Netflix and eating chocolate. Its important to make time for yourself, especially in this often stressful and anxiety provoking situation. Just taking a break can be really impactful.

For those on social media, I’ve created a new campaign hashtag: #UnlockedVoicesOfAutism. Throughout this whole weird ordeal, we can still use our voices.

Throughout this whole weird ordeal, we can still use our voices.

Ben, 23, East Midlands

The first few weeks of lockdown were really hard. I sometimes felt like screaming at the walls. It was a very dark time. I spent a lot of time watching the news and reading about the virus on social media. I also found it really hard to set up a routine and maintain a regular sleep pattern. This has gradually improved, and I now try to go to bed at a decent time.

I miss my friends so much. It just makes my heart so sad and I feel really alone and lost. Although I know we are all in this together, I also know that everyone is different. We are all reacting to the situation differently. For me, it’s just not the same without my friends. They’re good-hearted people and I know that they care about me and try to keep in contact via social media, but it’s just not the same as seeing them in person.

Luckily, I'm able to contact friends through social media. I've found talking to people through Twitter and Facebook really comforting. I also have a friend who phones me every day to speak to me. This helps me feel less alone.

Connor, 27, Edinburgh

I'm a full-time commercial photographer, living in Edinburgh. I was diagnosed with autism in 2017, so it has been a huge learning experience for me. I always suspected I was autistic, so it was big lightbulb moment when my suspicions were confirmed.

The initial thought of lockdown wasn't too worrying. When I'm not on a photoshoot, I work from home most of the time, so I didn't expect my routine to change much. I hadn't quite anticipated how serious the lockdown would be and now almost all of my work has stopped. My job requires face-to-face contact which obviously cannot happen now, so nobody is hiring. Since I'm self-employed, I'm now wondering if I'll have enough work to keep me going.

My morning routine has also totally gone out the window. Normally, I'd go to the gym in the mornings. This is crucial for me to retain a sense of peace and mental clarity. I think I've only done one home workout since the lockdown and I'm worried it might have a knock-on effect on my mental health.

To cope, every night I write out my next day on my whiteboard to help give me some structure and a sense of control over what's happening.

Jake, 27, Leicester

I am autistic and I am keen on my routine in life. I work full time as a bus driver and the coronavirus outbreak has had an impact on the way we run our services. Fewer buses are needed on the road, so our shifts have had to change at rather short notice. I have also had to adjust to different times on our usual routes. My work have been very supportive through all this, and my managers and colleagues have all really looked out for me.

I struggle on days off, as I live on my own and I haven’t been able to see any of my friends or family. My friends all know I am autistic and have been at the end of the phone for me, checking on me every few hours to make sure I am okay. This has been extremely comforting. I have also set myself a routine. I wake up at a certain time and I have activities planned, such as cleaning, playing games or watching TV.

The social distancing rules in supermarkets have thrown me a bit, especially when it comes to queueing outside. I can understand why this is being done in the current circumstances, but the sudden change has still been very overwhelming. I am now unable to go into a supermarket without getting confused or having a meltdown. Online delivery slots are almost impossible to get, although my brother has been kind enough to get my shopping for me and drop it at my door.

One important thing I have to remind myself, through all of this, is that it will not last forever. It is just temporary. I look forward to the future and things slowly returning to normal again.

One important thing I have to remind myself, through all of this, is that it will not last forever. It is just temporary.

AutisticPb, Surrey

I am an autistic person and I felt really nervous when the lockdown was imposed. It is such a significant change to routine, and things just felt overwhelming.

I have created my own routine and my own timetable to make my day more structured. Without any structure, things would feel too overwhelming and confusing. Sticking to a timetable and a routine is very important to me, and helps significantly. I also felt I needed something to do to make myself happy. I don't like having nothing to do and I don't like to feel bored. I always want to make a difference.

Last week, I decided to start my own autism awareness campaign during the period of lockdown. As part of this, I set up my own blog where I talk about my experiences of autism, and share my top tips for other autistic people. I wrote an article about the positives of lockdown, which you can read here.

I want autistic people to realise that despite the sad, stressful and overwhelming nature of our situation, there are some great things that can come out of it.

Ian, 39, North West

I am autistic and currently shielding. I am married with twins and work full time. Only a select few people at work know that I am autistic. Although I fit into the 'extremely vulnerable' category, none of my conditions are visible and I don't tend to tell many people about them. People just look at me as a thirty something fit and healthy man. They don't see how I really feel beneath the surface.

I started to become quite concerned about coronavirus in January, when the first repatriated citizens went on quarantine at our local hospital a mile away. Shortly after, there was a “corona scare” at work. My immune system is severely reduced, so I am anxious enough at the best of times.

I’ve been unofficially shielding with support from work for three weeks. Initially I was still able to get out and went no where other than for a quick golf game with my 14 year old son. We weren't able to go in the clubhouse, speak to anyone or get within 10 ft of people who were not a part of our household. I’m completely sport mad. I love watching it and doing it. I spend more time watching than doing as I get older. The cancellation of world wide sport was the first big blow for me, followed by lockdown which has led to my local golf course’s closure.

I didn’t initially receive the NHS letter, so I felt my anxiety lift slightly. That was brought crashing back to earth on Monday (when I got my letter) and I’ve gone into overdrive. I am constantly taking my temperature and using my peak flow about 10 times a day. I’m constantly worried about everyone I know, from family and friends to acquaintances. Dad’s also extremely vulnerable so I’m worried for him. My wife’s been going into work. Usually she’s so strong but she is struggling at the moment. I’m working from home. Focusing on work helps ease some of my worries, but I’m struggling to do many hours as I am so mentally fatigued.

If the lockdown lifts in, say, four weeks, the golf course will open but I'll still be stuck inside. I plan to get my camera out today and do a bit of home based photography, another on and off passion. I also started tweeting yesterday, and I am starting a blog on life as a shielding aspie: @AspiesL if you want to follow. I’m worried that after three months of shielding I won’t want to go back outside.

Robin, 23, Paris

I'm a 23-year-old autistic man, diagnosed at 18. Until recently, I lived in Paris with my boyfriend.

I always struggle with change, so the coronavirus situation hit me really hard. Everything changed so suddenly, in the space of one day. I had to adjust to working from home in my tiny apartment, which I found really hard.

Everything was difficult. When the lockdown was announced, I didn't have enough time to think. I knew I had a choice: leave Paris during the lockdown to spend time in my family in a comfortable house, or stay in Paris. I chose to stay in Paris as I didn’t want to spread the virus to my family or other people. I could have been contaminated. We didn't know. My boyfriend left Paris to join his family.

I tried to organise myself, but it was so hard. I had no routine anymore, so it was hard to stay motivated. Even things like getting up, getting dressed and brushing my teeth were really difficult. Despite my efforts to create a new routine, I still felt very anxious and experienced multiple meltdowns. My mental health took a turn for the worse.

I’m now with my family and in a little city, and I'm trying to build a new routine. I’ll get there. I’m surrounded by nice people and I’m safe.

Molly, West Midlands

I am autistic and I’m really struggling with my health anxiety. I have suffered from anxiety for a while now (health anxiety and social anxiety). I also have Coeliac disease, IBS and OCD.

This whole coronavirus situation is really affecting my mental health. I live with my parents. My dad still has to go to work as he is considered to be a key worker. I won’t let my parents bring anyone into the house and I won’t let them go near anyone either. I am constantly washing my hands too. It is really scary for me that now we have gone into lockdown. The word “lockdown” scares me, although I can’t explain why.

The worst thing about my anxiety over this situation is the fact that I can’t control it or make it go away. All I want is for this to go away so the world can go back to normal.

Another issue is the fact that everything is either closed or cancelled.

The uncertainty is also really difficult and I fear the unknown.

Aiden, 22, North East

I don't think I've processed the seriousness of the situation yet. I think that's ok as I'm not stressed and am keeping myself safe under the government guidelines.

I work from home half the time anyway, so being indoors hasn't affected me. However, coincidentally I booked last week (beginning Monday 21 March) off, which I ended up regretting. My routine went completely out the window. I forgot to take my medication five times, I was sleeping up to 17 hours a day and sometimes not eating until 6pm (and staying up until 4am playing video games!).

It's been tough reaching out for help because my brain is telling me I feel ok when part of me knows it's not ok.

I am now working from home again. We have started daily activities - online mindfulness, quizzes, meme sharing, stretching sessions and lunchtime group chats. We're all supporting each other during this time. Our bosses have reached out to autistic people in the group to offer extra support, should we need someone to talk to.

Charis, 17, Berkshire.

At first I was very confused and frustrated about coronavirus and had a very bad meltdown when it was announced that Peter Rabbit 2 was being postponed. I had really been very excited to watch it and I still did not understand what coronavirus was at all.

I was very frustrated, but my mum had put a slideshow on Facebook to help autistic people understand the coronavirus clearly and in a way that makes sense, because the news made it too confusing. Ever since I saw that slideshow I have been calm.

Since I have been at home I have made sure to have plenty of fun and entertainment and I can still have my College through Google Meet, I was nervous about doing video calls to my teachers and classmates. However, once I join the video calls, I get really excited to hear and see my teachers and classmates.

There has been a lot of change, like not going to college and not seeing the Sooty show in the theatre or going on holiday to Blackpool for my birthday but it makes me happy to know that people are safe rather than going out and either getting ill or infecting other people, I feel calm knowing people are safe staying home.

Amy, 24, North East

I have just moved out of inpatient setting and have set up a good routine for myself I have amazing support from my community team but now my routines are all disrupted and I don’t know what I am doing I feel lost. My family are unable to visit and all my hospital appointments next week have been moved to teleconference, I hate teleconference.

This morning I woke up thinking I was fine but I’ve sat and cried for the last 2 hours not knowing what to do for the best. My carers have been so supportive and are helping me to distract myself. I have been playing Mario kart and whooping them which is a mini victory in such dire circumstances.

I really feel for all other autistics right now and hope they have the right support in place to help them through this but I know sometimes it’s not always the case. We just gotta remain positive and keep hoping things will improve it may seem like the end of the world for some of us but we have to remember it’s all for our own good.

Mark, 47, Bournemouth.

I am a 47 year old man with aspergers. I live alone so the self-isolating hasn't been a problem for me.

However, I have been doing my food shopping at 6.30 am every Thursday morning for many years. I visit Asda, Sainsbury's and M&S which are all located in the local shopping centre. It's usually very quiet, just a handful of people in each store. But this week, due to the panic buying, I arrived at Asda, only to find it filled with hundreds of people filling trolleys with all the toilet roll etc. It was a horrendous experience, not least of all because I'm now also buying stuff for my elderly parents. Asda was followed by a trip to Sainsbury's which was doing a special hour for elderly and disabled people. The elderly people weren't obnoxious panic buyers like those in Asda, but my anxiety levels were made worse because I don't look elderly or disabled, so I felt really guilty being in there.

The whole thing ended up being so stressful that I didn't even bother going to M&S and I didn't even remember to look for half of the things I needed (or my parents needed).

It took me about seven hours to calm down after this experience. In readiness for next week I bought a sunflower lanyard on eBay, which hopefully will help me to feel more comfortable in Sainsbury's. But, next week, next Thursday, oh my God, I am full of dread already.

I know it's not just autistic people finding this whole thing stressful, so there's not a great deal that can be done. The silly thing is, the shopping is now worrying me more than the actual coronavirus.

John, 28, Yorkshire

I am autistic and my partner and I make sure we regularly have cupboards, the fridge and freezer stocked up, as we have a daughter and anxieties lay in her priority to be fed and healthy, and we also strive to eat healthy too!

However, there is a fine line between stocking up for a rainy day, making sure there's enough in and buying an over excessive amount of food that may very well likely go to waste anyway.

Because of the mass panic-buying, our usual routine of online shopping is heavily disrupted, and a trip to any supermarkets (though distressing enough as it is), becomes even more overwhelming and agitating when all of the shelves have next to nothing left as everyone runs around with overflowing trolleys.
With this mind, we have had to reassure ourselves with what supplies we already have in, make a list, and then build the confidence to trek to several smaller local shops to purchase sensible amounts from each. IE. 2 tins from one shop, 2 tins from another etc.

Even then, the general niceties of fellow customers has seemed to have been abandoned, as we found about a dozen people shoving passed us, and running around each shop as if it was on fire!

Aware supermarkets have taken the elderly and vulnerable into account, families such as ours find shopping on an ordinary day a struggle enough. This bout of selfish, greedy mass panic buying has made it near impossible.

Connor, 22, Nottingham

Every morning is a struggle at the moment. I’ve found myself waking up and being extremely overwhelmed by everything. It’s all just hitting me at once that the world outside isn’t how I know it to be. I find it confusing at the best of times but it really doesn’t make sense at the moment. On top of that, my own personal plans can’t go ahead. I can’t even plan ahead as everything is changing so fast. It’s really a lot to deal with.

I’ve realised the best way for me to get through the morning is to distract myself from the second I wake up, whether that’s playing Minecraft or watching a film. I don’t need to be thinking about it but that doesn’t stop me from doing so. Distracting myself is helping to spread the overwhelming thoughts, I’m able to deal with them in the back of my head over a few hours which makes it all more manageable.

I’m sometimes having a nap in the early afternoon to refresh myself and then I’m making sure I fill my afternoons and evenings with at least one phone call and then spend the rest of it doing what I love. I’m getting things done in that time, just not to the best of my ability. I’m finding all kinds of areas of autism more difficult as a result of all this. I’m just keeping in the forefront of my mind that this is all only temporary and it will pass.

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