Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene and People with Autism - The Saga Continues

Last Friday I had blogged about the coming of Irene, and the fact that I have a brother in law with a developmental disability called autism.  I wondered how he would cope.  Like many people with autism, he finds it hard to communicate.  And, like most people with autism, he does not like disruptions in his routine.  None of us would want to evacuate, but for him, I thought it would be very difficult.

The reality is:  "it's complicated."

Saturday, my sister in law brought my mother in law and my brother in law up here to Binghamton (about 150 miles from the NYC area).  My MIL and BIL stayed with one family member and my SIL with us.  The couple of times our brother in law was over here, he did seem anxious but it was under control.  I don't know how long it will stay that way.

This was in his favor:
1.  He was with family, people he knew, at all times.
2.  He knew Irene was coming - so it wasn't unexpected.

3.  He's been up here before, and he has stayed in the house where is he sleeping before. 
4.  This may be speculation, but his previous visits were on weekends.  And this trip to safety was on a Saturday.  So in a way it was part of a routine - a routine that only occurs once or twice a year, but a routine nevertheless.
5.  (this one is important, I think.)  He was able to have privacy. And quiet. He is more or less left alone to watch TV. Again, that is part of a routine from when he visits up here.

Of course none of that would have happened in a shelter-especially the quiet, and the privacy. And, indeed, anybody with autism who has to end up in a shelter has a nightmare ahead of them.  My brother in law, frankly, lucked out.

But the routine of his normal visits up here won't last past today, because he normally leaves on Monday afternoon.  And here we are at Monday evening.

He won't be going to work at the sheltered workshop (the last I knew, he worked Tuesday and Thursday) tomorrow.   What happens when the week drags on?  Because the reality is, MIL's house downstate is still without power.   We got hold of a neighbor, who says conditions are pretty bad down there.  Trees down, roads out, things you would expect.  It would seem that at one point the center of Irene passed right over the village where she lives.  And, we can't take her back (the family member who brought them up had to leave) until the weekend.  We better hope she has power by then.

On top of everything, my brother in law has a cold and so he can't be feeling his best.

Over the weekend, many of us in the family were showing anxiety.  But now the storm is over, the sun is out, (in fact it is quite gorgeous) and we hope to get brother in law out tomorrow.

And, by the way, we all are safe.  No flooding. We never lost power.
We were lucky.

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