Answers for people with developmental disabilities – as well as a call for us to be there for our neighbors
We are staying home and staying safe to protect our loved ones and our neighbors throughout Skagit. We know our seniors are at high risk for COVID-19. We worry about elders when they are isolated at home, and worry about them when they live in group settings. But often our neighbors with developmental disabilities are overlooked.
Many people with developmental disabilities have medical conditions that put them at higher risk from COVID-19. Much like seniors, they may now live somewhat isolated at home or in group housing which can increase physical contact with others. Children and adults with developmental disabilities rely heavily on caregivers and service agencies in their day-to-day lives. Key in-person support has been disrupted during this time of social distancing.
People with developmental disabilities have jobs and enjoy social activities. But employers are closing, group homes can no longer accept visitors, and community events have been cancelled. The resulting isolation can create creates loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Many adult children have long and proudly lived on their own. Now COVID-19 forces them to move back into their parents’ homes to stay safe.
So, what can be done? Know a family in your neighborhood who has a child with a developmental disability? Reach out by phone, text, email or more than 6 feet away. See if they need anything. Check out local group homes and give the agency a call to see if there are ways you can support their residents. There’s been a burst of creativity in Skagit over the past weeks as we all learn to socialize in different ways. Let’s see if we can spark that creativity to keep this group of people connected!
One example of a creative idea is #PandemicPals, created by Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune. #PandemicPals is a way for people to reach out through social media. Rex created an example you can just copy and paste into their social media page to start these conversations:
“I’m worried about seniors and people with disabilities feeling isolated because of coronavirus restrictions. If you know someone feeling that way, I’m happy to call or write that person. Message or email me at (YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS) and let’s set something up! #PandemicPals.”
The idea of #PandemicPals is to break down the isolation caused by COVID-19. We can all think of someone in our lives who is lonely. It’s an easy way to connect with those people in need.
If you have family members with developmental disabilities at home, there are a lot of creative, engaging ways to maintain connection. Below is a list of a few:
- The Mighty, a website for individuals with disabilities, is hosting daily interactive online activities plus a blog to share how people are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. Check out: https://themighty.com/
- The Arc of King County has:
- Two online art group meetings, one for young adults and one for adults
- Coffee Hour for Parents to give some support to parents struggling with COVID impacts
- A phone buddy system if you’re experiencing loneliness and want to talk with someone. Just call (206) 829-7053 or email at email@example.com
In Skagit, Heather Milliren serves as the county’s Parent to Parent Coordinator. Heather has her finger on the pulse of families in our community. Overall, families are adapting to these strange times. But their most common concern is how to access the resources needed to provide care to their loved ones. Heather wants to emphasize, “The good news is that most parents of individuals with developmental disabilities and/or complex healthcare needs are amazingly RESILIENT. We have to be since our loved ones are counting on us to be advocates for their needs every single day.”
Let’s see what the rest of us can do to support families of people with developmental disabilities. Let’s show them Skagit will do what we can to help them during this trying time.