Matthew’s creativity helps him understand life under Covid lockdown

07/05/2020

Life under lockdown and the impact of COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone but for people with a learning disability and those that support them there can be an added level of challenge. For many not being able to attend the usual activities can be confusing. But with the support of the Avenues team and family some are finding their own creative and unique ways through…

 Matthew Goodman has always been a bit of a storyteller, regularly writing about an activity. According to Service Manager Ewa Koziol, whose team support Matthew in Kent “they are normally quite factual, an account of where he has been and what he has done”.

 So in the midst of the outbreak of the coronavirus, when Ewa saw that Mathew had written a poem expressing his feelings she knew he must have been feeling differently. “It was something new for him, writing his feelings on paper, rather than factual information” says Ewa. “We could pick up that he was a little upset”.  

“Matthew’s life is normally very busy” Ewa recounts ''He attends day services: a horticulture project and works in the café plus delivery work with Tuck by Truck and Hadlow Pottery.” Says Ewa. “After work he does his house chores and makes dinner, as well as going to his music sessions and various social meetings. Weekends are church, cinema, theatre or out with friends. We realise how difficult it must be for him. He misses his activities and friends he usually spends time with” (Matthew is currently spending time with family). 

 Matthew’s poem commences with ‘I was feeling a little bit down’ and passes through feelings of ‘I was feeling a bit anxious’ to ‘I was feeling a bit sad’ through 22 lines closing with ‘because of the coronavirus’ but emotionally ending on a hopeful note with ‘Everything will be alright, we’ll have to be patient’. Another story recounts a fictional tale of ‘James and Coronavirus’ where James is cured with some lunch from his mum.

 According to Matthew’s mum, Claudia, after he wrote the poetry Matthew was ‘a different person’. She explains “It gave him a boost” she says. “Matthew will write a story every day. He just has this urge to write. His latest is The Waterfall”, which Matthew recites over the phone.

 Avenues’ team and Matthew’s family have been using a number of Easy-read resources to help him adapt “It has been difficult for him to understand why he needed to stay at home and that everything was closed, but the resources have helped” says Claudia. Regular communication between Claudia and Matthew’s support team and his friends have also been key “We speak to mum frequently and regularly set up Face-time and Skype meetings for Matthew and his housemates” says Service Manager Ewa “Matthew really enjoys meeting and talking to people and entertaining them with his guitar concerts” For mum Claudia, the calls are vital “He really misses his housemates and they miss him too but we have been able to share Ben’s Birthday (housemate) by Face-time and all did a quiz so that’s been great”.

 As well as supporting Matthew to build firm friendships, Avenues influence has also been evident to his family in different ways. “He is much more confident now. His independence and communication skills have grown. He’s also been helping in the house, it’s never had such a good clean! I don’t think I could do it so well without him, he makes me more motivated!” Claudia says cheerfully.

It seems Matthew’s creativity is not just limited to writing. He is somewhat of an illustrator “he’ll copy illustrations and draw freehand” says Claudia. In addition he plays the guitar regularly and is currently learning the ukulele!” However for now Matthew is happy to put pen to paper “I never like to intervene once he's started as he's in his own zone. He’s usually smiling to himself as he gains so much pleasure from writing” says Mum Claudia.

Poem by Matthew Goodman

I was feeling a little bit down

I was feeling in my head

I was feeling in my tummy

I was feeling upset

I was feeling in my brain

I was feeling in my stomach

I was feeling in my chest

I was feeling a bit lonely

I was feeling a bit timid

I was feeling a bit frightened

I was feeling a bit anxious

I was feeling a bit coward

I was feeling a bit hot

I was feeling a bit cold

I was feeling a bit worried

I was feeling a bit hopeless

I was feeling a bit terrible

I was feeling a bit bad

I was feeling a bit funny

I was feeling a bit dizzy

I was feeling  a bit sad

I was feeling disappointed

I was feeling miserable

Because of the Coronavirus

Everything will be alright

We'll have to be patient

James' Coronavirus by Matthew Goodman

Poor James isn't feeling very well. He has got his pyjamas on but he will have to stay in bed. He has got tissues in his bedroom. Just then Mum arrived with a thermometer in her hand instead of a doctor. "You don't feel well" said Mum. "You can't go to school when you are unwell" "No" sniffed James. He sneezed. "ACHOO! I've got ACHOO! a cold! ACHOO! ACHOO! ACHOO!" "Maybe you should take your tissue" said Mum. "Blow your nose very hard" He reached out, took a tissue out of his box and gave a very good blow getting the snot coming out of his nose. He put the dirty tissue in his bin. "Have some water and a tablet!" said Mum. "Then you'll much better" He sipped the glass of water and swallowed the tablet down his throat. He coughed. "Cough! Cough! I've got a cough! Cough! Cough!" You don't feel well!" said Mum. "Are you feeling alright?" "No!" he said. "I'm not feeling alright" "Maybe you should hold your thermometer under your tongue until he wait!" He hold his thermometer under his tongue very tightly. Very tightly still a bit longer! Then it makes a tiny, little bleeping sound. He gave the thermometer to Mum so she checked the numbers. "You do look feel alright!" said Mum, putting her hand over his forehead. Then she had an idea. "I'll bring some lunch! Then you feel better!" She carried the tray with plenty of food then he started eating his lunch. James felt much better. "Yes!" said James cheerfully. "It worked" Mum felt very proud. "You are look well!" she beamed. "Your Coronavirus is better Then you should go to school!" "Whoppee for me!" squeaked James, jumping up and down. He threw his arms around her and gave Mum a great big hug. "Ah, I love you so much!" he smiled. "And I love you, my darling" she smiled. "You are the best boy in the whole world!" "Thank you, Mum" said James. The end.