As the UK government begins to ease some of the restrictions of the lockdown, we are now beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel after a very uncertain and distressing period of modern history. Headliners member and A-Level student Brandon Harkin (18) who has Autism describes to us how he quickly adapted to his surroundings and used his new found free time and turned it into a positive learning experience.

From the calm relaxation of my bedroom, to the vast expanses of my kitchen, life in lockdown has altered everything in our lives. Before this, I would be waking at 7 a.m., stumbling to the shower and then wandering to the kitchen for my daily dose of sunny-side-up eggs, all before heading to the regularly scheduled school viewing of boredom. Once that tediousness was over, most would go home, wander the streets, some went to the gym, while those rare breeds would simply work for what’s left of the evening."

Now? I don’t know about you, but, I wake up at 10 a.m., shower, eat and then work at my BTEC engineering and I.C.T. coursework. So, for me, nothing has really changed. Sure, now I have to work at my home, but that was my boring weekends anyway, before the pandemic, the only big change is that I’m sleeping more and having more time to read.

I wouldn’t say that the pandemic has benefited me though. Its harder to work, the kitchen, where the only good table is, just so happens to be the place where you’ll be the most interrupted, as people come in, and out, and in, and out, and in and… you get the picture. After an hour of that, you may squeeze in half-an-hour of consequential work before someone comes in to wreck your flow (can I have a show of hands who have younger sibling). 

Despite this, lockdown hasn’t been all bad. I’ve grabbed my guitar for the first time in God knows how long. I tried learning an old George Michael song, though I’m not doing so well. I’ve even started a small garden in my room, its just a few flowers in plant pots. They haven’t sprouted yet, but they’ve just recently been planted.

However, regardless of your outlook on the lockdown, the bad and the good, we should consider those that this lockdown hasn’t really affected: The Autistic. When you think about it, they have always had some sort of wall between themselves and others. Some don’t like being physically touched, becoming angry should someone invade their personal space, while others would have mental walls that they cant get past, some cant truly access their emotions, while, for others, their families and closest friends lie beyond a wall of glass, so close you can see them, almost touch them, yet they can’t be connected with. Some aren’t that lucky, as they, don’t have friends they can talk to, hang out with, or even just escape the confines of their unwilling, but self-imposed barriers. So, in the context of autism, the lockdown hasn’t drastically changed their routines, it just that they can’t travel to school and get their much-needed second-hand social interaction. You don’t realise just how many people you see, hear and interact with on a daily basis until you are forced to distance yourself, and, coincidentally, walk a mile in an autistic pair of shoes. Not many people realise just how human autistic people really are.

As an autistic person myself, I hope that this piece shows another perspective on the lockdown, that it isn’t the end of the world, that somethings haven’t even changed for some people. It is terrible, many have died, families torn asunder, and this will continue for some time. But, despite that, or even because of that, we should at least look for some sort of light in these dark, uncertain times, even if it’s simply thinking “by being bored here, in my home, I’m protecting people and am stopping the virus.” If that’s all we can strive for, then strive for it, if learning a new skill keeps you inside and sane, strive for it. And remember, for most people, this feeling is temporary, for others, it's forever.

Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.

Thank you for reading.

This article was written by Brandon Harkin as part of our #LifeInLockdown series. Thank you to The National Lottery Community Fund making stories like Brandon's heard.