Lockdown Groundhog Day

Mark Arnold by Mark Arnold Additional Needs

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark heads up Urban Saints pioneering additional needs ministry programme and is co-founder of the ‘Additional Needs Alliance’, a learning and supp...

When I woke up this morning, the first thing that struck me was that I had absolutely no idea what the date was or even what day of the week it was. No clue. Next I realised that I’ve experienced that feeling every day over the past few weeks during lockdown, as I’m sure many of you have too. Every day is the same. Every day just flows like a repeating pattern into the next day which is the same, and the next, and the next… We’re living in the film Groundhog Day.

As I eventually figured out that today is Wednesday 6th May today (as I write this), and I headed to my home office for another day of Zoom and Skype calls, writing, juggling work and family duties, remembering to get some fresh air and exercise at some point, I was reminded of a quote from Bill Murray’s character, Phil Connors, in the film ‘Groundhog Day’… “This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.” OK, maybe not that quote, maybe it was this one… "Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today."

Bill Murray’s character was really unsettled by what was happening to him; he didn’t understand it, and the film, although a comedy, actually explores some very dark themes as he tries to come to terms with what is going on. It reminded me that many children and young people with additional needs are really struggling to come to terms with what is happening at the moment too, including that lockdown means that every day is the same. Will there ever be an end to lockdown? Will there ever be a tomorrow?

We can help them to cope better with these difficult days by helping them to understand a little of what is going on, as well as helping them to navigate their way through each day.

There are some great resources that people have prepared and shared to help with this, including these tools that explain why school and other places are closed, planners to help them understand each day, and a resource to help them to share how they are feeling:

School is closed social story, created in Widgit by Breezy Special Ed, explaining why school is closed:

Our day at home downloadable activity planner, created in Widgit by ReachoutASC, providing a tool to visually communicate each day:

‘Our Day At Home’ planner - Our-day-at-home

And here’s another planner template from Take 5 And Chat:

There is also a Widgit resource to help children and young people explain to adults about their feelings:

Many more resources are available online through the Additional Needs Alliance website, head here: https://additionalneedsalliance.org.uk/information/ then click on ‘Resources’ and ‘Our Time At Home’ for a wide range of activities, crafts, information and more.

I hope that these resources will help you and the children and young people you journey with to cope better with these difficult lockdown days. As Bill Murray says in ‘Groundhog Day’… “Something is different… Anything different is good!”

OK, maybe not that, how about this conversation between Bill Murray’s character ‘Phil’ and Andie MacDowell’s character ‘Rita’…  (Rita) “This day was perfect. You couldn’t have planned a day like this.” (Phil) “Well, you can. It just takes an awful lot of work.”  Hopefully the tools and ideas mentioned in this blog will mean that you can have as perfect a day as possible every day, without it needing an awful lot of work, and without it always feeling like Groundhog Day!

Peace,

Mark

Image rights: Header © Columbia Pictures

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