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Monday, January 18, 2021

COVID Impact on Autistic People and Caregivers

 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. Providing education, social services, and therapies is proving to be very difficult.

At The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, L. Casey White and Colleagues have a brief report titled:  "Impact of COVID-19 on Individuals with ASD and Their Caregivers: A Perspective from the SPARK Cohort."


The impact of the 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in the United States is unprecedented, with unknown implications for the autism community. We surveyed 3502 parents/caregivers of individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) enrolled in Simons Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) and found that most individuals with ASD experienced significant, ongoing disruptions to therapies. While some services were adapted to telehealth format, most participants were not receiving such services at follow-up, and those who were reported minimal benefit. Children under age five had the most severely disrupted services and lowest reported benefit of telehealth adaptation. Caregivers also reported worsening ASD symptoms and moderate family distress. Strategies to support the ASD community should be immediately developed and implemented.