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Mum fears for disabled son's health amid Covid-19 pandemic

Mum fears for disabled son's health amid Covid-19 pandemic

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 11:33am 25th March 2020. (Updated at 11:44am 25th March 2020)

A mum from south east Cornwall has told Pirate FM how she fears for her son's health amid the coronavirus outbreak, as he is medically vulnerable.

Nine-year-old Lawrence can't walk or talk and also suffers from epilepsy. It means he can't do everyday tasks such getting himself out of bed or feeding himself.

Despite his disability, he remains a medical mystery and has never been diagnosed.

Lawrence attends a specialist school in Plymouth, which provides things such as hydrotherapy, physio and equipment for communication.

virus mum - katherine kowalski

But mum Katherine Kowalski, from Downderry near Looe, decided to pull him out of school before the closures were announced to try and protect his health.

She is now home-schooling Lawrence, along with his 11-year-old sister Beatrice, who is autistic and has previously suffered from anxiety.

The mum-of-two is now providing education at home for two children with very different needs whilst also working. 

Katherine is self-employed and works from home as a freelance writer. She now has to balance her workload along with educating Lawrence and Beatrice.

Now she is calling on the government to provide for support for people in her position.

virus mum - katherine kowalski

"We decided to take our children out of school before the government announcement mainly because my youngest child is medically vulnerable.

"Typically respiratory infections can affect him very badly indeed, it could involve hospital admissions, even the common cold can do that.

"So we wanted to protect him and we made the decision to take him and his sister out at the same time.

"It's a relief the government has now closed schools but it doesn't make it any less challenging. Trying to provide education at home for two children with extremely different needs and working is extremely hard.

"I work from home, I'm self employed, I have to work to keep the money coming in, so there is no option for time off, I just simply have to find a way of juggling it and to keep going.

"I've actually home educated my daughter before, while she is in mainstream school now, she went through a period of time when she was too anxious to attend, she is autistic and finds going to school quite hard, so that experience will be valuable.

"My son is the challenging one as his school is so specialist, it's a very special type of education that he receives and we just don't have the resources to replicate that at home for him.

"The school is being very supportive and giving us help and advice where they can, but we just can't provide that kind of education for him at home."

Katherine Kowalski, mum

virus mum - katherine kowalski

"It's a huge change for him, he's a fairly easy going chap, but even things like school holidays can really throw him just getting used to the new routine.

"He's non-verbal, he can't talk to us so we can't have a conversation with him about what's happening. but he understands, he's got a good understanding so he'll know that he's at home but he won't understand why.

"So only time will tell how he manages that emotionally but I can see some tricky times ahead.

"He's got no diagnosis for his condition, his disabilities mean he can't walk or talk, we need to do everything for him, he also has epilepsy, he has underlying medical issues which means that he's vulnerable and we want to keep him at home.

"We're preparing ourselves for a long haul, many months, I hope it isn't as long as a year, but we're prepared to do whatever we need to do to keep him at home and keep him safe and well.

"It could be extremely challenging and a pretty lonely time, lots of families are going through the same, we're just trying to get our heads around what this means for our lives."

Katherine Kowalski, mum

Katherine added that there are many other families like hers out there struggling, who need more support.

She says there are lots of resources online that are useful for families with children who have disabilities. 

You can read more about her journey with motherhood here.

virus mum - katherine kowalski

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