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 Autism, Sarah Hurwitz, Blaine Garman-McClaine and Kane Carlock have an article titled "Special education for students with autism during the COVID-19 pandemic: `Each day brings new challenges.'" The lay abstract:
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disrupted how special educators provided supports and services for students with autism spectrum disorder. School closures and the related pivoting between learning modalities (i.e. virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face) were difficult for all students, but especially for students with autism, who rely on routine and require individualized instruction. In this study, we surveyed 106 special education teachers, behavior specialists, and speech pathologists who work with autistic students to learn about how they adapted instruction to comply with the complex social distancing rules and changing expectations of the pandemic. Participants reported “making the best out of a bad situation” and “constantly using ‘trial & error’ to find the best way for our students to eLearn.” They emphasized the importance of collaboration with parents, who helped deliver intervention and monitor progress across settings. They made alterations to Individualized Education Programs, by adding individualized contingency learning plans, adjusting service minutes, and sometimes eliminating social goals. Participants were surprised that while students with more intense needs struggled, others actually preferred virtual instruction. This raises concerns for what will happen in the future, when social expectations resume. Despite the overwhelming challenges posed by COVID-19, participants demonstrated remarkable resiliency and an innovative ability to adapt instruction.