May 27, 2021
As lockdown restrictions lift, most of us have emerged from our homes to mingle, shop, eat out and enjoy the everyday freedoms of life.
Not so for some however, as the past year has had a devastating effect on people with learning disabilities, whose services have been decimated.
Kathryn Taylor never intended to be a spokesperson for such families, but the situation has become so difficult for her family, that she’s been left with little choice.
While the rest of us are out and about, not much has changed for Kathryn, who is still walking the roads with her sons.
Kathryn and her husband Tommy have four children - Sophie, Nathan, Levi and Sam.
Nathan (25) and Levi (20) have autism with severe learning disabilities.
It’s been a constant battle to obtain the help that they need over the years, and Kathryn says it’s getting worse rather than better – as Southern Trust services continue to shut down, with little thought for children moving to adult services.
She believes the pandemic only served to speed up the erosion of services that was already happening.
Day opportunities stopped with the pandemic, and because of the two-metre rule, the Trust has not reopened them and Kathryn can’t envision a time that they will.
As Kathryn spoke to Armagh I for this week’s podcast, she emotionally recalled the wonderful day opportunity Nathan enjoyed at St Luke’s Rec Room, pre-pandemic.
Since lockdown began Levi, whose schooling ended abruptly last year, has been at home, joined at the hip with his mother.
Print It on the Mall has been the only support Kathyrn has had. They are not run by the Trust. She’s enormously grateful to Print It, who checked in with the family regularly during lockdown, and both boys get to spend some time there now.
Levi also has behavioural problems, so finding day opportunities for him was tough enough as it was, but now he has settled into a routine at home and has regressed over the past year - He hides his mothers shoes to keep her in the house with him.
Kathryn isn’t looking for respite - although she worries for those that do. She just wants an outlet for her children to socialise, grow and develop to the best of their abilities, in a like-minded community where they are understood and their needs can be met.
Kathryn also desperately needs some space of her own – just like anyone does – for her own mental health and that of the other family members.