Bettina shopping“Thank you Mummy” Joyce has just made a cup of tea for Bettina. The plumber is fixing our loo and Joyce notices the plumber smiling at Bettina’s reaction, who then offers to fix something extra we had not originally agreed on when the job was booked.

Yesterday when Bettina approached the entrance to the supermarket, one of the regular assistants we see offered to sanitise our shopping trolley. Bettina thanked her and the assistant said how much she admired her bag. A short while later when paying for our purchases, the staff member comments on Bettina’s ‘101 Dalmatians’ DVD, reaches into her pocket for her smartphone to show Bettina a picture of her Dalmatians, and Bettina is thrilled.

Bettina’s smiles are truly infectious, and Bettina does infect her world with joy, no matter what we are currently facing with Covid19.


(Bettina is a woman who copes with a learning disability, autism and epilepsy, those conditions do not define her, her character and personality does.)

Have you noticed that people are more polite and show courtesies towards each other, perhaps as never before? We have certainly observed this on our daily walks together, here in Colchester. We hope Bettina has made a small contribution to the way people behave towards each other.

In the UK, we are past the peak of Covid19 although we do have a long way before we are on the other side of this terrible contagion.   It is 6 weeks since I wrote ‘Being Bettina’s Dad: ‘This Too, Shall Pass’ – The Lockdown’ this piece was designed to help and support carers with tips and share how Bettina and her family plan to continue to thrive.

This blog post: ‘….Staying Happy while Staying Alert’ is an update on how we are determined to continue to thrive and are thriving. Sharing with you, how we will continue to support Bettina through this difficult period. Some of these tips, I hope, will again resonate with you.

Five things we are doing to maintain a semblance of normality for Bettina:

  1. We always plan a positive day for Bettina. We do this during the evening, going through the programme together with Bettina, with what we have in mind and seeking out her response. Are we getting a thumbs up for a walk to the nature reserve tomorrow morning, near our home?
  2. Joyce updates Bettina’s programmes on her notice board in her bedroom, so B can anticipate what is coming next.
  3. Where possible keeping to our routines pre-Covid19, so at 6pm, work permitting, Bettina and I sit down to watch her favourite YouTube Videos.
  4. Doing what is important for Bettina. This includes having her nails done. Joyce has created her own salon which Bettina loves. (Joyce also cuts our hair too)
  5. As a family we sit down together at the dining table for our evening meal. It is a time for family conversation, reflections on our day and as always lots of laughter.

Five things we continue to do for Bettina to maintain her Wellness and her Mental Health

  1. Acknowledging her emotions and not judging them, rather each of us support her through those emotions, particularly when she is anxious.
  2. Positive Affirmations. Bettina is good at making these: simple, positive statements declaring specific goals in their completed states. Bettina repeats them (often in a loop) to each of us checking our response. It is important that we always respond positively, both verbally and with our body language. For Bettina this confirms something to be true. An example of an affirmation for Bettina is reminding her that she is smart, kind and funny or that we have ordered a DVD or book on her wish list.
  3. Creating a calm home, practicing daily solitude. It is important to Bettina that she has time to enjoy the peace and quiet in her day, in a small corner where she can think. She does this either in her bedroom with her favourite books and music or on her comfy chair in our sitting room. I make sure I do not disturb her first thing in the morning while she is waiting for her PA to come and support her, otherwise I will get a ‘flea in my ear’ from Bettina.
  4. Realising Bettina’s Validity. More so than ever, it is important to support her with her self-esteem, how she thinks about herself. As a family we know the more positive your thoughts and feelings are, the healthier your self-esteem will be. It is important to us that Bettina feels she has control of her life.
  5. Opportunities for Achievements. Bettina’s look of triumph when she completed her latest (big) jigsaw receiving a double thumbs up. I have a 1000-piece ‘Beatles Album cover’ jigsaw I am hoping she will do for me. (I wouldn’t know where to start)

As a Family here are Five things, we will do to maintain our Discipline.

  1. Maintaining our family’s core principles of: Politeness, Respect and Privacy towards each other.
  2. Keeping to our family traditions and rituals (we have a lot!) and creating some new ones.
  3. Talking about what we have learned as a family and about ourselves during this time.
  4. We will look ahead of Covid19 with the end in mind. We have started making our ‘wish lists’ for the things we would like to do together as a family – the list is growing, and we will endeavour to do them all.
  5. Keeping at the forefront of our minds that this too shall pass

As I type this blog post in our kitchen early this morning, I can hear murmuring and giggles coming from Bettina’s bedroom. Soon she will launch herself into her day with all her life affirming enthusiasm, which she generously shares with all who encounter her. Today we go again.

Go Bettina!

Bettina outside her favourite nature reserve


Here are some pictures of our daily walk together this morning:


Steve Raw