How Lockdown became the new norm

July 12, 2021

Before Lockdown Tyrone Cook was going out, going to the gym, going shopping, meeting up with his mother once or twice a week and his support worker would take him op shopping. Then Covid-19 happened. This is his story.

At the time there were five of us living here, then Steve died. He had Huntington’s and it was in the last stages. He came home and we hoped he could hold on until Level 2, but I think he decided ‘I’m home, I’m comfortable, I’m out of here’. He wouldn’t have wanted to die up there in the hospital, he was home and with his flatmates.

Tyrone Cook. © Life Unlimited, 2020 – Alan Gibson

Every time they put those ads on TV, the alerts sound would be no good for me – it would make me anxious.

I tried to mute the ads when they came on. But the good thing was I had my phone on vibrate so when they sent out the emergency alert from Civil Defence, it came in as a vibrate, it didn’t make that horrible noise. I turned off all the noises in my phone during Lockdown.

We did try to get online shopping. I signed up for the priority shopping at Countdown but when we first went to do it, it was all booked out. And the closest we could have got was a week later.

We thought ‘yeah we aren’t waiting a week for food’.

We managed to find some slots but one of our staff members went in for us.

I’m hoping if something happens like that again they’ll have more thought to things like that.

I handled Lockdown well.

Tyrone Cook © Life Unlimited, 2020 – Alan Gibson.

During Lockdown social distancing is important, everyone must do it. Autistics everywhere ……. ‘We’ve been telling you that for some time!’

Here’s everyone else freaking out and here’s me saying ‘Dude, this is nothing new to me.”

For once everyone is doing what I try to do daily.

The thing I liked about Lockdown was that people were suddenly thrown into my world. Finally, they’re learning why we do certain things.

Now that we’re down to Level 1, I don’t think anyone learned anything. Everyone is now thinking ‘we can go back to normal now’.

After this Lockdown people may say ‘now I understand why this person acts like that, or why that person doesn’t like crowds.’ Whether people want to be educated, is a whole different story.

We only had the level 2 masks and we finally got the gowns for the staff in level 2. Not long after going into level 1, we turned up home one day from an outing and there’s a big box with some more masks. It was kind of a bit late.

We were told that if any of us got sick, even a cold, we would be quarantined into our room and have meals brought to us. It didn’t happen to anyone. Luckily, nobody got sick. Except Steve died.

Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate, left, with Tyrone Cook at the Life in a Pandemic book launch. © Life Unlimited, 2020 – Mary Anne Gill

The thing I liked about the Lockdown too was every time Jacinda went on TV, she had an interpreter, and you don’t normally see that. There were some complaints about the interpreter being too animated and I would say ‘that’s our language’. I was impressed she always made sure there was an interpreter on the corner of the screen.

I would go into Lockdown again. I’ve done it already before; I think it would be a lot easier this time because I know what to expect.

Although my dairy remained open, they executed a one in, one out policy and the streets were safer for me to cross.

I would like these things to remain.

One year later

We are in level one (not level zero people, so PLEASE keep washing your hands, scanning QR codes or signing in!) and I am back to the gym, going to the movies and out with Mum.

I have a new flatmate and a new staff member and finally I got assessed for a communication device (I was told nine months, then COVID happened), I have been on a road trip to Mount Maunganui and planning a trip to Dunedin to stay with my best friend.

Tyrone Cook and Chewie Kitty at church.

I ordered some products from a company called Stimtastic, one being a Cat chewable (any name suggestions for him and the hedgehog one welcome).

The Cat comes with me everywhere so far and is a regular at church where he has had many questions.

I am writing blogs not only personal ones but also for Invacare Australia and New Zealand, both are getting me recognised globally and I plan to start a YouTube channel.

Now I hope we can stay in level one, or better yet … become Covid free altogether.

  • Tyrone Cook appeared in the Life in a Pandemic book published by Life Unlimited Charitable Trust in September 2020.
  • Read the article
  • He lives in Hamilton.
  • This article appeared in Altogether Autism Journal, 2021.

    Tyrone Cook © Life Unlimited, 2020 – Alan Gibson


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