My autistic daughter's aggressive outbursts & anxiety have made me ill, vulnerable kids have been forgotten during covid

I WALK down the stairs, trying to dodge the bag, water bottle and shoes that come flying past me and make my way to the front door.

Although I could cry, I hold it together and calmly say to seven year old Lexi that we need to get going if we’re not going to be late for breakfast club.

She storms past me, scratching my arm for good measure, and reminds me that she hates school, hates breakfast club and hates me. 

This is a typical morning parenting an autistic child during lockdown.

Here, Writer and mum-of-two Natasha Harding, 45, who lives in Bude, Cornwall, with husband Paul, 51, Zak, 14 and Lexi, shares her experiences of the impact that lockdown has had on her family…

When Boris Johnson made the announcement that we were going to go into another lockdown in December 2020, I was relieved that this time Lexi would still be able to go to school, as she’s classed as vulnerable so entitled to a school space. 

She couldn’t access school during the previous two lockdowns which had a catastrophic effect on her education. 

Lexi has always struggled academically because her attention span is so poor and reading has been a particular challenge. 

However, with so much time off over the last ten months I dread to think how far behind she is.

Her school is wonderfully supportive, although they are running at a reduced capacity which means that the therapies Lexi desperately needs to function aren’t happening at the moment. 

Although I try not to get resentful, it’s very hard, especially when people say things such as all children do that. No, they don’t actually.

She usually has art therapy, woodland studies and daily sensory circuits, all of which are designed to calm her system, reduce anxiety and help to manage her meltdowns.

Pre-COVID, Lexi also accessed a wonderful after school club, went horse riding, danced and saw family and friends regularly. All of these things helped enormously and gave us respite at home too. 

Without these therapies, Lexi becomes more unpredictable with her family bearing the brunt of her aggression. 

A lot of people don’t realise that autism and anxiety go hand in hand and therefore the constant changes make it incredibly difficult for people on the spectrum to function as their anxiety levels are sky high. 

This time, Lexi is doing well at school and thriving in the small bubble she’s in. The downside is we pay the price at home, waiting for the inevitable explosion that comes because somebody has moved something in her room, sat in 'her' chair or washed her uniform. 

Although Lexi’s behaviour can be incredibly challenging, I remind myself constantly it’s not her fault and that she’s feeling anxious or unsure. 

However, trying to get the bottom of any issues is very challenging as Lexi struggles to express her emotions. The only way I know how she’s feeling is by her behaviour. 

I know that she’s struggling with life as her sensory sensitivities to things such as clothes, noise and change are heightened which is incredibly challenging and upsetting. 

Although I try not to get resentful, it’s very hard, especially when people say things such as all children do that. No, they don’t actually. 

Zak finds it increasingly difficult to accept Lexi’s moods and spends the majority of his time safely in his bedroom. 

I work full time as a writer and yoga teacher and have been busier than ever.

However, it puts me under enormous pressure to juggle everything. Even though Lexi is at school this time round, the day is relatively short which puts pressure on me to work more in the evening. 

And although Paul tries his best, it’s always been me that Lexi wants to be with. 

What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be cured.

Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways.

Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support.

All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.


After school and at the weekend, we do endless crafts, baking and exercise as keeping her happy is the most important thing. 

She demands constant attention and struggles to concentrate on any task without support. 

The burden on me has taken a toll too. I’ve had a constant migraine all year and have developed the stomach complaint gastritis. 

I don’t feel as though we’ve had any support, although I don’t blame the school because they are doing everything they can.

It’s been an incredibly hard year for so many people and I try to count our blessings because we have managed to remain healthy and in work.

However, I do feel that children with SEN have been totally forgotten about. 

In other real life news, this woman is sick of mums complaining about homeschooling as she says it was their choice to have kids.

And this boss was praised for their response to a struggling mum during lockdown.

Plus this mum who can’t be bothered to homeschool her teen wants her I to be a TikTok or Love Island star instead.

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