In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters. And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all.
As health experts and government officials stress the importance of social distancing to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic, workers and families who care for those with developmental disabilities are faced with the harsh realization that it's an impossible task for them.
"We have to work very intimately with people," Leann McQueen, a residential coordinator for the Young Adult Institute (YAI) in Brooklyn, which provides a multitude of services for children and adults with disabilities, told ABC News in a telephone interview Thursday.
"Anyone with autism likes structure and repetition. Doing the same things every day is very therapeutic," McQueen said. "When things are jolted, it can cause a lot of challenges, a lot of stress on the person."
Pradeepan Jeeva, whose 4-year-old son Obi has autism, said he and his wife aren't able to give their son the amount of care he needs while still doing their job.
They worry he'll lose the progress he gained in therapy school.
"But we know that [these] may be short-term solutions if Seattle did what San Francisco is doing, and have us placed under a 'shelter-in-place' order. We believe in the public good and public health, but at the same time, we're put in the situation of what do we do?
Do we want to risk our son regressing?" Jeeva said. "Or are we OK with potentially spreading a disease?"