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Saturday, May 15, 2021

COVID and Transportation

 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.

 At The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, Beth Pfeiffer and colleagues have an article titled "Impact of COVID-19 on Community Participation and Mobility in Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders."

Transportation and mobility for community integration is difficult for persons with ASD under normal circumstances (AOTA, 2008; Feeley et al., 2015; Friedman & Rizzolo, 2016; Newman et al., 2011), but the impact of COVID-19 made access even more difficult. COVID-19 had a significant impact on the lives of the six study participants based on GPS and daily reporting data. For all participants, the number of trip destinations, as well as travel modes, were substantially reduced during the first after COVID-19 period which immediately followed the closure, with only very small increases in the second after COVID-19 period. Specifically, all six of the study participants had significant reductions in the after COVID-19 periods in transportation modes used, total destinations for all five categories analyzed, time out of home, median daily activity living space, and distance traveled. Business closures and shutdowns significantly decreased activities by restricting services to those deemed essential (Office of the Governor, 2020a2020b; Wolf, 2020a). All participants had reduced trips for essential function. Additionally, five of the six participants had reduced trips for non-essential functions, with two making zero trips for non-essential functions.


Perhaps the most significant contribution of this study is to illustrate the lack of access to different transportation modes during the after COVID-19 periods. None of the six participants reported any type of travel provided by a social or human services agency to ensure essential needs were being met during this time period. As described in the Daily Community Mobility and Participation questionnaires, the first participant only traveled three times during the two after COVID-19 periods and only for ADLs/IADLs. This was even more significant for the second participant who used five different modes for community mobility during the before COVID-19 period, but only walked for nonessential purposes including RLEA and a few SA. Participant 2 only traveled once during this timeframe and was driven by someone else for an essential purpose.