How has the Pandemic Impacted Neurodivergent People?
Updated: Oct 9
The past year and a half has been a very difficult time for everyone and it has also impacted neurodivergent individuals in a unique way. I have been listening to my client’s stories and experiences and can relate to some of the stresses myself, as many of us can. The stress of a national lockdown, working from home, balancing work and family demands, social isolation, delayed exams, employment and financial issues, impact of racism, impact on mental health, and so on has been a significant concern for many. As everyone has been impacted in their own unique way, based on their own unique needs, so have neurodivergent people.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we all thought we would be working from home for a couple of weeks. This couple of weeks turned into over a year for many people. This has both pros and cons for neurodivergent individuals.
Many people were able to accommodate their own learning, employment, and mental health needs in the comfort of their own homes, set up doctors, therapy, and other appointments from home, and creatively meet their needs at home. Some neurodivergent people benefited from being home and away from all the sensory stimulation that was a source of major stress. As such, some people continue to feel a temporary relief of the stress experienced in their life before the pandemic.
However, many students / people working from home worried they would lose the support they needed when everything went online. Some people lost their jobs. People struggled more with executive functioning issues, and more distractions at home. They needed to share their space with others at home when it is difficult to find a quiet space to work. Some people have young children who are also learning from home and are neurodivergent themselves with their own unique learning needs. Balancing work and family demands became an extra challenge. It can also be very challenging to understand or focus on video conference calls or classes. Many people struggled a lot with lack of social contact.
People who are neurodivergent learned how to adapt in one environment and then need to learn again how to adapt in another environment. Change of structure and routine can be stressful for many people. For these and other reasons, the pandemic has triggered a lot of anxiety in many neurodivergent people. The unpredictability, uncertainty, rising cases, deaths, and fear of illness have contribute to worry and anxiety of people around the world. Neurodivergent people who experience anxiety and other stressors can be highly impacted by these worries.
Maintaining a structure and routine can be great. Get dressed each day as if you are going to the office, even if you’re not. Leave the house each day even if it’s just for a walk.
If you’re social distancing, seeing friends and family can be tough but a video call, phone call, or a visit on their lawn might be a good idea. Maintaining social contact is a great way to make sure you are connected and avoid isolation.
Avoid watching too much news if it causes anxiety.
If you are not working you may benefit from online courses or something to maintain your employability and keep busy.
If being home is helpful for you that is great but continue to use the skills you haven’t used. Sometimes avoidance feels good temporarily but can cause difficulty transitioning back later.
Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well.
Seek mental health support if needed. Check the resources page for more info or go to the contact page to get connected.