ATLANTA - The entire country has been forced to disrupt its routine because of COVID-19, and those living with autism are often triggered by changes to their everyday life.
"I’m afraid that he’s going to hurt someone and my hands are tied," Rhonda Savain said.
Her 24-year-old autistic son Jaivon has become increasingly violent since Georgia's stay-at-home order.
"He is smart, kind, compassionate until autism takes over," she said. "He can be very aggressive and very dangerous," she explained.
Savain bought Jaivon his own home after negative experiences in a group environment.
Jaivon likes to attend his group meetings and walk in his favorite park, but with meetings canceled for social distancing and that Peachtree city park shut down, Jaivon’s outbursts are more violent and intense than ever before.
Friday night his mother had to call an ambulance because of his heightened stress and meltdown.
"The last seven days have been atrocious," she said.
"[Those living with autism] really depend on having a regular routine," she explained. "They like to do the same thing, the same time, the same way, every day."
COVID-19 has forced virtually the entire country to shut down.
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Mental health experts advise all of us to live as close to normal as possible during the pandemic to reduce anxiety.
Those on the spectrum, like Jaivon, could be pushed to their breaking point during this difficult time.
"When people with mental disabilities act out and end up on the news people say 'oh why didn’t the mother help?' I have been trying to get him help for years," Savain said.
Autismspeaks.org has a variety of resources available online for families of autistic children and adults.
Best prevention measures:
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds.
• If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
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