The Coronavirus Pandemic: Ray’s Journey With Autism:
The Pandemic: Ray’s Story:
About the author:
Ray is a second year student in McFatter Technical College in the career placement and current intern at Different Brains. He looks forward towards video editing plus plenty other activities and leaning towards a bright future.
Life Before the Pandemic:
Q: Describe your everyday life before the pandemic hit. Include social aspects such as school, work, extracurricular activities, or spending time with friends and family.
A: Before the whole pandemic hit, yeah, there was school and bus rides home, I started walking after being dropped off by the bus, and on weekends, I’d usually just chill in my bed or be on my PlayStation 2 to record for my YouTube content. My school, McFatter Technical, wanted me to get a job in their career placement program, and I’m in my second year of that program. I usually also hang out with family… for example, before the pandemic, I went to a Comic-Con convention with my dad. It was actually quite memorable despite the fact there were loads of people there and it was hard to find parking (laughs.) It was memorable because I got to hang out with my dad, and I had to wake up early to get there before the convention was full of hundreds and thousands of people… Loads of things really changed when the pandemic hit. At first, things were normal, but then, everything went to nothing…
Reacting & Adapting to Change:
Q: Describe how you initially reacted to COVID-19 and the social distancing.
A: It was really crazy: the whole social distance and six feet thing. People have to do all of this social distancing and other stuff that COVID has affected… but I managed to stay cool with it; it’s just I have to stay far away from people because I don’t want to get them (or myself) sick.
Q: In what ways have your life and schedule changed as a result of the coronavirus?
A: At first, I was doing nothing inside the house and I was bored out of my mind, but then I realized that I’ve got a PlayStation, I’ve got a YouTube channel, so I can take time to do this other stuff, until virtual classes started happening. I’m all right with virtual classes and I tried to do this thing where I continued online learning because of the whole COVID situation.
Q: What have you had to do in order to adapt to these new circumstances?
A: I usually just stay calm and I kind of really hope this whole situation is going to be down because at times, I really do want to be out there because physically, I was doing Driver’s ED, but now I’m doing virtual Driver’s Ed on Broward Virtual (which is a lot like taking a permit test.) My teacher suggested that I do [virtual Driver’s Ed], but I have to do all this login information, register to be in there, once I sign in, I’ll be with a teacher, and the class itself is just multiple choice and writing-type assignments… [The pandemic] didn’t really affect me mentally; I’m still right in my mind…
Autism & The Coronavirus:
Q: If you are neurodiverse, how has this pandemic affected what you have, or how have your conditions affected how you’re dealing with the coronavirus?
A: It wasn’t really a challenge because I was born autistic. I took me until 2004 to legit say my first words, so it took me four years just to speak. In my case, [having autism] has neither affected me emotionally nor mentally [with the coronavirus situation] because I just hope the coronavirus cases] go down… Since I was born autistic, it’s really helped me develop the skills I have right now, like doing this video-editing thing and this YouTube process. I’m really thinking about the skills that I’ve done throughout the years. I think I’m self-taught into doing these types of things, but at the same time, I would get help with certain things.
Resting as Coping With COVID-19:
Q: What coping mechanisms are you using in order to deal with these strange times?
A: With coping, I would say I try to sleep it off, lay down until it goes away, or if I’m up, I just take deep breaths in and out. To reset my mind is what I do to deal with certain issues that I currently have.
Life Lessons & Advice:
Q: What have you learned about yourself and the world around you as a result of the coronavirus experience?
A: Enjoy life while you really can is what I really learned because last year, there were a whole bunch of things that really hit this world really, really hard. Live life to the very fullest no matter what your age is.
Q: What advice would you give to someone having difficulties dealing with the coronavirus?
A: I would say, it’s okay. Just keep calm, live life to your absolute fullest, and don’t let anything negative or anyone get you down. Just keep a positive mindset.
Interview by: Julia Futo
Story by: Ray
Interviewed on January 22nd, 2021
Julia Futo was born on August 5th, 1999, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She faced difficulties early on in life with trying to perform everyday tasks. Before she was five years old, she was diagnosed with two learning disabilities: Encephalopathy and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). She struggled in school for a long time, but that changed when she took journalism in high school and learned how to become an advocate. She is currently in college and hopes to help others find their voices.