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How the COVID-19 Quarantine Is Helping My Son With Autism Develop Life Skills

When the quarantine first started, I spent the first week trying to replicate what my son Dominic, who is on the autism spectrum, did at school on a daily basis. Unfortunately, he had a seizure that Friday, March 20. The next week, I let him do whatever he wanted because I had a huge case of mom “guilt” that I had caused it somehow. Secretly, in the back of my mind, I was hoping the quarantine would last two weeks and things could go back to the way they were. As we all know, that hasn’t happened yet.

In the third week, I started using a whiteboard for Dominic’s detailed schedule as well as having him write his daily chores in a spiral notebook. Dominic has had a handful of chores for well over a year now (a fabulous idea from his private speech therapist). I began to notice that I was starting to give him additional chores, many of them practical life skills he will be able to carry with him throughout his life, whether he always lives with us or not.  Some of his new chores include making his own lunch (he has been making his own breakfast for several years) and bringing in the trash can from the curb after the garbage guys come through. I gladly let him take that one over from me!

Dominic has been baking alongside me from the time he was in diapers. Before the quarantine, I was so incredibly busy that baking had really taken a back seat. I was hardly doing any baking. During this time of togetherness, I have started it up again! Dominic used to just put the ingredients in a bowl and leave. I have expanded his role to reading the recipe, as well as finding and measuring the ingredients.

A few weeks ago, he spilled a bunch of flour and got upset. He is what you would call a “perfectionist.” I had to reassure him several times it was OK. So far, we have made my mother-in-law’s Sour Cream Kuchen four times, as well as Brownie Pie and yesterday, Sour Cream Biscotti. I have loved baking since I got my first Easy-Bake Oven. My great-grandfather was a baker in Missouri. I think Dominic has inherited his great-great grandfather’s passion for baking!

Dominic will be 16 in July. He is on the social skills track at school, not the academic track. Employment for those with disabilities is hard to find. I see so many stories on social media about those with disabilities working in coffee shops, restaurants, etc.  Dominic loves repetition and organization. I like to think all of this time we are investing now will serve him well in his future endeavors, which hopefully will include a future in the hospitality business!

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community: