The COVID-19 stay in place orders have brutally impacted communities around the country, from doctors to laborers to the elderly to the ill. These are people who are receiving the mass amounts of support they deserve through social media, the press, and from the public at large; however, as our society so often does, the neurodiverse community has been mostly ignored and is not on this list. They are also being impacted and are isolated, many times without the resources that they need, the same resources that we owe to them. 2020 saw cuts in funding, health care, and support programs dedicated to neurodiverse citizens along with the shuttering of vital services like schools, workplaces, community centers, and places of worship. Our neurodiverse peers cannot understand the reasons why their routines have shattered, why their lives have been disrupted.
Why can’t they see their classmates? Why can’t they go on the swings at the park? Why can’t they hug their friends?
Convenient answers so easily provided to us by politicians, scientists, and public figures rarely extend to our neurodiverse friends and family. It is on us to step up for our community and to embrace our neurodiverse brothers, sisters, parents, and peers, who have been hurt by recent events. As facets of their daily routines were stripped away, as hugs and high-fives were replaced by video calls, as isolation and monotony became constant companions, it is no wonder that invisibility, helplessness, and hurt touched our neurodiverse family. At PRAGNYA, we decided to tackle this situation head-on, working tirelessly to create connection, speak love and foster belonging within the constraints of the SIP orders, with these initiatives taking shape in the form of weekly virtual movie dates, Zoom art sessions and video call socials.
For myself among many other allies, these meetings have consistently been the highlight of every week spent quarantined. Our neurodiverse friends, several of whom we have never met in person, join week after week, inject enthusiasm, compassion, and innocent excitement into the faded monotony of quarantine. At PRAGNYA, we often say that love is the only way forward, and, while it sounds oh-so-cliché, it is in times like these when we can feel the warmth and happiness from our community light our path into the future.
While it has been a spectacular few months with our PRAGNYA family connecting virtually, as restraints ease, we hope to begin small in-person sessions alongside our virtual ones in upcoming weeks in a move to help our peers ease back into ‘normalcy.’