How to make my wife feel secure at home now she can't go out

with the masks In shops rules fast approaching, my autistic wife (even though she is exempt and has a hidden disability card that says so) is so terrified about shopping it looks like things will revert to how they were at the start of lockdown. When she didn’t leave home for 3 months. During that time her mental health plummeted as we live in a tiny flat there is no space to create a “safe space” and we both hate our home so it’s not somewhere we can relax.

The dining room table is used for storage all day long and you can barely see it, she cant sit in bed all day and the living room is just a play room for our daughter.

I’m terrified the steps forward we made in the last 3 weeks, going shopping as a family again etc are going to be for nothing and we will be back to her feeling so afraid she is not able to function. I can handle doing the shopping and taking our daughter to and from nursery. But I need to know how to best help my wife, because she’s done so well she doesn’t deserve this stress and upset again.

My wife asked me to cancel her xrays we have been waiting for for months because she cant wear a mask and she doesnt want to make a scene. Im so upset for her because her coping techniques all involve not being at home but now she cant leave.

I cant change the rules or the world for her but I wish i could. She doesn’t deserve the attitude from people because she cang wear a mask, even her family have verbally attacked her, calling her selfish and saying she must want to be put on a ventilator and that they won’t cry is she gets covid 19 and dies. Its awful. She isnt a stupid woman. She knows all the reasons for wearing masks and I have seen her try different ones on, over and over again, even though she knows it gives her panic attacks, just because she so badly wants to be able to wear one.

She cant sleep, she gets maybe a couple of hours a night. She cant eat, I make small amounts of food through out the day and just bring 2 plates in for us and just say “I thought you might like this” that seems to be helping slightly. She is so good with our daughter, she’s playing with her, making her laugh, feeding her, changing her, bathing her and all the while if you didn’t know her you wouldn’t think she was breaking on the inside.

Hi David,
This pandemic is tough on all of us, but for those with autism it is their worst nightmare - constant change and the need to adapt all the time.

Could your wife not accompany you to take your daughter to nursery? That would be regular outing and since she is so good with your daughter - that might be a welcome distraction for her?

Masks aren’t needed in the fresh air so walks, trips to the park etc are an option. Fresh air and exercise should contribute to improved sleep.

Re a safe place - it needn’t be large - small spaces are often better - but it might need some creative thought to create one.

What did your wife do prior to the pandemic to maintain good mental health?

Her family sound like they are aggravating the situation - so I’d avoid contact with them for the time being.


PS I always want to make things right for S too, but this pandemic is bigger than us and all we can do is support our carees as best we can, make everything at home as predictable as possible and stick to our family plan!!

She cant come to nursery drop off as the new line up to get in system is too overwhelming for her and that upsets little one.

Before this we had a very structured routine. Mondays we did x y z, Tuesdays we went to this shop etc.

We try to go out as much as we can but with her legs being so painful (she has chronic knee pain in both knees and walks on a stick) she just can’t manage to walk far. We drive as far as we can on the petrol we can afford but before we had our little one we used to go out at 7pm and not get back until 7/8am.

I’ve tried making the bedroom her space but then she cang sleep in it at night. Weve tried to make time for her to have longs baths and pamper herself and she’s been drawing a lot.

The worst part is she knows its a nation wide thing that can’t be made better so she just tries to smile through it. I can see when she is day dreaming how sad her eyes are but she doesn’t ask me me for help because she know I just want fo fix things and I cant fix this.