This is a strange, turbulent time for everyone, however particularly strange if you are autistic. This blog is a handy guide and some recommendations to help support autistic individuals, whether you are a parent/carer/friend or family member.
State the facts
Only state clear objective facts about the virus. Don’t engage or let them hear speculation. They will struggle to separate ‘what if’s’ from what is really happening. Try to answer their questions without giving unnecessary details that may alarm them.
There are some brilliant articles online about the facts, including this one from the NHS. A lot of the newspapers and media outlets speculate which can often make it harder to understand or decide what to believe in.
Over the past week there has been a lot in the news about stockpiling, and many items are running out in the supermarkets. Due the nature of whats happening, if you know an autistic individual that only eats certain foods its probably good to think about buying a few extras to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy.
Similarly, if someone is worried about the prevalence of the virus ask if they need anything from the supermarket. Going to busy places to even do basic things like the supermarket shop can be very worrying, especially as they are getting extremely chaotic.
Offices and schools around the world are closing, creating large disruptions to every day life. This can be a big change for autistic people may be moving to a prolonged school holiday or even a working from home situation.
Now is a great time to be talking about routines, and how autistic individuals can keep their routine as normal as possible. You can support people to continuously set their alarms, have the same meal times and interact with the same people on a daily basis. For example, if there is an office closure you can encourage someone to have a short phone call with their manager every day to keep life as routine as possible.
Mental health matters
A lot of events, gyms, cinemas and shops are limiting their hours so its really important to keep yourself active and support everyones mental health and do things we enjoy!
If you or someone you know is usually a gym goer, try doing some home workouts on youtube. Not only will you be spending some time together, but also keeping yourself moving! Other good things to do are putting a good film on or trying some home cooking.
Let them try their own coping mechanisms
Autistic individuals are pretty good at finding ways to cope. Someone has piled pillows outside his door to ‘stop the virus’. Will it in anyway help? No. Does it make him feel safe? Yes. Within reason let individuals cope how they need to.
At the end of the day we are all human and have different ways of dealing with things. We all can do our bit to support others during this situation.
If you or someone else needs additional support:
Further advice can be found on the NHS website
The latest advice from the government can be found here
Mind has a fantastic resource regarding the virus, your health and well being.
The department of education have set up a helpline to answer any questions related to education:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
And finally, if you need someone to talk to confidentially, feel free to give us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to direct you to additional support if needs be.
It is more important than ever to get your voice heard and exercise the right to vote. Stack has put together this handy guide to everything you need to know and make your vote on December the 12th.
Registering to vote
First things first, if you want to vote you must be registered. You can register to vote online or by post.
You can register to vote if you are:
- 18+ years old (or 16+ in Scotland)
- A UK citizen (or an Irish, EU or Commonwealth citizen with a permanent UK address)
Deadlines for the December 2019 General Election:
- Voting in person at a polling station
The deadline to register for this is 11:59pm on 26th November 2019.
- Voting by post or a proxy voting by post
The deadline to register for this is 5pm on 26th November 2019.
- Proxy vote (not postal)
The deadline to register for this is 5pm on 4th December 2019.
To register to vote you will need to know:
- Which country you live in
- Your nationality
- Your full name and date of birth
- Your National Insurance Number
- Your address, and previous address if you have moved in the last 12 months.
You can register to vote by post by filling in a form and sending it to your local electoral office.
Download the registration form here.
You can register to vote online by following the instructions on the website.
How to vote
There are two ways to vote. You can either do it in person at the polling station or using a postal vote.
Voting in person at the polling station:
- You have to go to your location polling station, which is a place in your neighbourhood designated to take votes on Election Day.
- When you get there, you have to confirm your address to ensure you are registered to vote.
- You will then get a ballot paper which has a list of people you an vote for on it.
- You can then take that to a small booth where you can decide who you want to vote for and once you’ve decided you can put a tick next to the person.
- When you have completed this, fold it in half and put it in the box.
Getting support to vote at a polling station:
- If you need help when you are at the polling station that is completely fine.
- There is someone called an Electoral Officer who can help you.
- All you need to explain how you can best be supported and they will do their best to do so.
Voting by post:
- Voting by post means you will get your voting paper sent to you. You can complete this in your own time and post it to the Electoral Office.
- A postal vote means you are still able to vote even if you’re busy, on holiday, can’t travel or need some more time to think about it.
How to vote by post:
- You will receive your postal poll card in the post.
- You can complete this in your own time and with support if you need it.
- Follow the instructions on the card and put your paper in the enveloper provided. Then all you need to do is send it off.
Voting is becoming more accessible and it is becoming easier to vote in general elections, local elections and referendums.
Make your vote count on December the 12th!