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My orchid blooms! Gifted by Amy four years ago, carried from Madison last July.

Yesterday, Julia had two online class meeting and unfortunately we missed a third one. They were all set up the day before and if a student hadn’t checked where teachers usually post assignment, the student missed meetings.  These pre-class meet ups feel random but we in pre-schedule days.  It feels chaotic, hit or miss.  I want the schedule, the instruction book, some thing sure.  We are riding the waves like surfers and I happened to want to walk the well trod path.  Possibly paved.

At the beginning of the week, I cleared my google calendar. Julia glanced over at my computer and was appalled at what I was doing-wiping away school dismissal times, my HILR classes, her cello lessons, spring break travel plans, the school musical, etc. We needed a calming talk to ease her mind.  Then, I added new appointments, mostly on zoom, and there is no pattern. Not yet. Almost immediately there were conflicts—why does everyone, meaning 3 groups, want to schedule meetings at 1 p.m. on Thursdays? I need the calm talk right now.  We will miss appointments/classes/meetings.  And with gentle pushes forward and some long steady breaths, it will work out.

I bought a whole lot of groceries yesterday—food and a box of tin foil. I’ve plan a two week absence from the stores, 6 main dishes, each for two meals plus a little for the freezer.  I remain attentive to the full freezer.

Last week, we launched Julia’s art blog, trying to spread news of it to our many circles of friends, family, educators and therapist.  Julia wrote in invitation:

“Hi, I’m Julia.  I live in Newton, Massachusetts.  I go to Newton North High School and I love to draw.  Like everybody else these days, I am stuck at home—no school, no after school clubs, no cello lessons or church on Sunday.  

“Every day I draw a picture about what I am doing at home.  I am starting a blog called Pencils, Crayons, Paints & Clay.  I am posting my pictures every day on my blog.

“I would like to post art that other kids are making on this blog. The only rule is that the art should be about what you are doing while you are stuck at home. I’ll post your art with your name and where you live. You can send a short bio and photo, and I’ll post that too. I am interested in getting art from kids of all ages and I would really like to post art by other kids with disabilities.  I am on the autism spectrum.

“Send pictures of your art with you name and where you live to me at julschanker@gmail.com.  Pencils, Crayons, Paints & Clay is at https://quarantineart.wordpress.com.”

Please visit Julia’s blog and share it with anyone who might like to be a part of this venture.  Like, comment and follow if you are so inclined. This is part of keeping her in touch with the world. 

Autism during isolation raises such a basket of conundrums.  Julia is very social and wants connection.  Unfortunately, she is pretty awful at sustained connections whether it be for the length of a conversation or a deep relationship.  Friends have to work hard to keep her as a friend.  And in this time when social connection is hard won, the work to keep her connected is deeply intense.  Julia is lucky to have a therapist, a mentor, and teachers to talk to.  We talk what seems like 24/7.  However, there is another side—Julia can be pretty much contained within herself.  If I let her, she would close into herself for most of the day.  These days it wouldn’t just be her art or toys, it would be long stretches on her ipad, examining anime inspired pictures on Pinterest or watching cosplay skits on Youtube. I think I would l loose the young woman who has been in training to look outward, even if it is on schedule and with prompting.  And yet, in this time of isolation is it fair to her and us to keep up the work of connection?  I do and to some extend, she does too, but I wonder how long it would take for her to revert to her more natural, isolated self?

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Facebook is fully of links and I get NYTimes’ alerts.  I rarely think of posting them here.  However, these two are special in very different ways.  What I learned when my husband got sick with the coronavirus,” by Jessica Lustig, tells a story I do not want to live through and of course, as a single mother, I think about. Chilling. And then this.  Frustrated, Italian mayors addressing their constituents.  Direct, to the point.  Who in the US could do this?  I love Italy!

Julia and I did a lot of academic work today, much more than I would like.  As a church friend said on a zoom call, I was hoping for more crafting and games, and she is occupied with serious work.  

And I am once again ready for the pillow and a purring cat.