Islington man’s blog has helped people with autism through unpredictability of the coronavirus crisis

Billy Chandler

Billy Chandler - Credit: Billy Chandler

A young man is helping to inspire other young people with autism through the unsettling coronavirus crisis by writing a weekly blog.

Billy Chandler and Elena Vidal

Billy Chandler and Elena Vidal - Credit: Billy Chandler

Billy Chandler was asked to write about how the pandemic is affecting him by his former teacher Elena Vidal, head of sixth form at The Courtyard in Liverpool Road, Holloway.

For the past three months he has been giving his readers regular updates about what he has been doing and sharing his thoughts.

The young actor has found it a helpful means to connect with others, and he has given his former teachers at the specialist school for pupils aged 14-19 with autism, an insight into how the situation is affecting young people with autism.

People with autism spectrum disorder tend to prefer structure, and the anxiety that unpredictability can trigger can result in withdrawal, repetitive behaviours, tantrums, or aggression.

Billy said: “If I’m feeling down, annoyed, frustrated, any negative feeling you can think of, writing the blog would help calm me down, would lift any negativity I have off my shoulders.

“I even have people I know go to the website to see each new blog without me posting the link, which warms my heart, and reminds me that this blog is actually really important to some people.”

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Ms Vidal has found that there has been a lot for people to get their heads around, while trying to stay positive, during the pandemic. “This is a difficult task for a neurotypical person, and for a person with autism is even harder,” she said.

While uncertainty over shortages and adapting to a lockdown lifestyle has raised anxiety, confusion and meltdowns, Ms Vidal said self-isolation has helped young people to connect more with themselves and their families.

She said Billy’s blog has helped their young people “realise they are not alone”.

“They get what Billy says, they understand his way of thinking and he is inspiring them to do other activities, keeping strong and staying positive,” she said.

“And the positive outcome of all this, is raising autism awareness and understanding.”

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