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The new normal for a local family

By Christine Simmonds | Mar 31, 2020
Courtesy of: Black Bird Portraits From left are Brian Farnham, Colin Nelson, Heather Nelson and Corbin Farnham at Children's Chapel in Rockport.

Thomaston — Heather Nelson and her family have been keeping busy and staying active during this time of self-isolation.

Nelson and her husband, Colin, are both working from their Thomaston home.

She is an occupational therapy assistant at South School for RSU 13. Nelson said she set up an office for herself in the spare bedroom.

Nelson and another OT teacher are using Google Classroom to work with their students. “We are really trying to keep our activities... fun and low-stress for the kids and their parents,” she said. “Our admin team has done a wonderful job stressing to us employees that our families and our own personal family’s well-being is paramount right now.”

Colin is an account manager at Hammond Lumber. Nelson said he is using the dining room for his work, and has “taken over” the space with blueprints. Colin is also making phone calls with contractors and going out to job sites daily.

Nelson’s two sons, Corbin and Brian, are both students at Oceanside High School and are currently doing their schoolwork from home while the schools are closed.

Corbin is a junior, and Nelson said he is familiar with using Google Classrooms, which is where his teachers are putting his online assignments.

Brian is a freshman at Oceanside. He on the autism spectrum and attends school in the Life Skills classroom. Because of this, Nelson said his work is harder to carry over at home, though the teachers sent home a packet of work for them.

“Right away I knew the boys would need a schedule and a dedicated space to work in,” Nelson said. She created a daily schedule that “includes everything- chores, school time, outdoor ‘adventures,’ virtual field trips to zoos, meals, etc.”

Nelson said she had to make “a lot” of materials to ensure Brian stays busy, but feels lucky she has been working in special education for fourteen years “in some capacity” and has a lot of resources and people to reach out to.

Nelson said they are also implementing physical activities and outside time into each day as much as possible. “If we don’t get outside, or if we just want to double-up on our daily activity, we have found online Taekwondo classes to replace the classes Corbin was taking prior to this, yoga with Anna from Frozen for Brian... and I’m continuing my beach body workout videos from home.”

In addition, Nelson said they have been doing Zoom calls with their extended family and “trying to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible.”

Nelson said she knows not all families need the kind of schedule and daily activities she has planned, but she knows her boys do. “Without structured activities both boys would sadly choose to be on screens all day,” she said.

Nelson also said an important part of each day is making sure to change into “real” clothes, though she did say the family usually changes back into pajamas before they would if all this were not happening. “I think that’s huge in being productive,” she said.

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