Autistic Canadian, proud self advocate, writer, producer, director of Power of One, accomplished pianist and performer at I Can Dream Theatre performance group.
Though these are challenging times for our community and so many others, we continue to share authentic stories of autistic Canadians and their families. We hope these will offer a look into the many diverse perspectives in our community and provide inspiring and uplifting stories when we need it most.
Steven Atme, autistic Canadian, proud self advocate, writer, producer, director of Power of One, accomplished pianist and performer at I Can Dream Theatre performance group.
I enjoy music and advocating for special needs. I have been involved with humanitarian work for years. I heard about Coronavirus for the first time in mid-January. Like many others, I felt it’ll never come to Canada and if it did, doctors would try to control it. Before the pandemic, I loved my routine of getting out of bed at dawn, working from home and being in public during my shows and helping others.
When the pandemic started, I’ll never forget the day Quebec Government ordered a state of emergency and lockdown on Friday, March 13th, 2020 as it affected me a lot. That day was supposed to be my movie premiere for “The Power of One”. In my life, I never let anything, or anyone stop me but given the situation, I decided to postpone the premiere for the safety of my family and friends attending the event. It was a very tough decision.
To hear the words, “Stay home, don’t leave the house” made me very anxious. I wasn’t myself for the first two weeks under quarantine. I was disappointed. My parents sat me down and told me that they understood my frustration, but I must think of others’ lives, protect our family, friends and loved ones by staying inside. It made me realize that this is only temporary. Together as a family, we can come up with fun activities and projects. If we continue staying home, we can play a crucial role of saving lives. I’ll never forget the time my little buddy with autism wanted to video call. His mother gave me the heads-up on how upset he was as he was missing his daily routine. We have a lot in common, we spoke about everything and this situation. I was in the same boat as him and told him he’s a hero for doing the right thing by staying home. I told him “You’re the man!” and it made him smile.
Prior to COVID-19, nobody could have predicted this pandemic. It is funny to me that the only way to stay safe is to “Constantly wash your hands everyday” my parents have taught me this for a very long time. It is important that we follow safety guidelines not only during coronavirus but also during regular colds and flu season. Coronavirus is a major wake-up call. People in my city are taking these precautions seriously. Until the pandemic is over, I have decided to take a break from music and help my father with some minor construction and handiwork. I will also use this time to catch up on my exercise as I’ve always enjoyed exercising and taking walks.
COVID-19 has changed lives in positive ways no one could imagine. The environment is more green, clean and there is less pollution. We must continue this path and help make on environment healthier. Children are playing outside again, and people are doing stuff they never have a chance to do before. Technology has even come a long way; video calls help me feel close with everyone. I can also Zoom call into different activities and lectures. I am hoping that the Canadian medical teams can use this time to create vaccines to help fight this disease and help revolutionize modern medicine.
I know this is a difficult time, but we must count our blessings and be grateful for being in this together. I want to thank doctors, nurses, postal service workers, grocery store clerks and all essential workers for their time and devotion.
Sending my love to all and please remain safe... until we meet again.
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