My son’s 24th birthday is coming up but we won’t be together to celebrate. That’s not a remarkable story in these days of the coronavirus pandemic, however, our case is a little different. My son is autistic and he doesn’t understand what a pandemic is. He can’t grasp why I can’t pick him up from his group home for Shabbat or even visit him. It’s ironic that this is happening this week, since April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day.
The Health Ministry recently ruled that people with special needs must stay in their residences. If they are taken out by their families, they must remain at home for 14 days. I’m not a doctor and can’t speak about the medical aspects of this ruling, which certainly seems quite arbitrary, but I can say that it is causing unfathomable suffering for those with special needs, especially for those who, like my son, have no way of understanding why they cannot see their families.