By Jennie Chui, FCSN Parent
Since the FCSN Adult Day Program closed on March 17th, 2020, my son, Choy, has been stuck at home. During the first two weeks, he was still able to enjoy spending time at home watching TV and playing on his iPad. However, as the days went by, he became bored and started to ask questions about why he needed to stay home, and where his teachers and other clients were. He especially missed some of his favorite activities, such as yoga, field trips, and volunteer work. I tried my best to explain how the pandemic affected everyone in the world, how it made people sick, and even made them go to heaven. It was particularly hard to explain the importance of wearing a face mask and how to wear one properly. He said he understood every time, but I could tell that he was very confused. He began to blame everything on the pandemic. When we mentioned that the kettle was broken, his first response was, “why, because of the pandemic?”.
My husband and I were excited to learn that FCSN was going to provide a 5-day virtual program. On the first day of remote service, we woke Choy up to attend the class. However,he was very hesitant. He refused to meet his peers through zoom, and would rather take walks in the backyard six times a day. We did not know what to do — seeing him sitting at home looking sad really made my heart ache. In an attempt to avoid being encouraged to attend the virtual program, he began to intentionally wake up late. Even when he was already awake, he would just lie in his bed with his eyes closed. When we turned on Zoom and put the iPad in front of him during breakfast, he got upset and almost threw the iPad on the floor. For the next two weeks, we didn’t dare to mention virtual class. One morning, I decided to turn on Zoom just for him to hear his peers greeting each other good morning, and I told him that his close friends were there to say hi to him. He slowly walked near the iPad and said hello to the staff and his friends. To avoid him being overwhelmed by zoom, I asked if he wanted to leave zoom after 10 minutes. But over time, he went from attending the zoom meetings for 10 minutes to 30 minutes to an hour, until finally, he began waking up on time and attending the full virtual program every day. His action clearly told me that though he looked fine, he missed his friends and the staff from the bottom of his heart.
After a 16-month wait, Choy can finally attend FCSN for in-person services. He was extremely excited the night before, brought out his backpack to pack his mask and hand sanitizer, and went to bed early. And though the day program started at 10 am, he was ready at 8:30 am! When my car turned into the FCSN parking lot and slowly stopped, he unbuckled fast, got out of the car, and walked towards the center entrance without looking back and without saying goodbye.
One morning when we were leaving home, there was some construction work and our neighbor blocked our way. While we were waiting, Choy suddenly rolled down his window and told the construction workers, “Please give way, people trying to go to school here!” I couldn’t help but laugh. His face was red and breathing rapidly. He was so eager to attend the day program and didn’t want to miss any classes. He once woke up at 7 am or so on a Sunday morning, and when I asked him why he was up and dressed so early, he said he had school today. When he saw me laughing, he noticed something was wrong. He then asked me, “Today is not Thursday?!”
Although we have always known that Choy loves going to the day program, we did not know just how important it was to him until he couldn’t go anymore.