Danyelle and Sebastian (age 11) have come a long way since Sebastian was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at three years old. But like most families, their lives have changed immensely since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the Shelter-in-Place Order, Danyelle is working from home and Sebastian is attending online school. They can’t see Sebastian’s grandmother or Uncle as much, who normally offer a lot of support. This puts a lot of strain on Danyelle as a single mother.

One of the biggest challenges has been Sebastian’s virtual therapy at The Children’s Center. “He usually loves therapy with Melissa,” Danyelle says. Sebastian shared, “I’m so angry because my life has changed so much and it’s not fair. It’s not the same because I’m not seeing Melissa in person.”

When Sebastian was younger “he used to not even want to play next to children,” says Danyelle. “Now he is in a mainstream classroom. He’s in the chess club and athletics at school. He is so smart and surprises me every day with how much he knows.” His therapy has been integral to this growth, and has also grown his love for school that he now cannot attend in person.

Recently Danyelle and Melissa came up with a good solution to virtual therapy. Melissa video chats with Sebastian on the phone, which gives him privacy; and then Melissa and Danyelle video chat to debrief.

Danyelle is grateful for the flexibility. She says, “Sebastian can feel the enormous change in the world. I just wish I could fix this for him. As a mother all you want to do is make sure your child is not suffering. But COVID-19 is not something I can fix. Every day we are thankful that we are alive and healthy, and that we still have our family and a roof over our heads. It’s more than many people have right now.”

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