COVID-19 Related Challenges and Advice from Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place, families with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) face a unique set of challenges related to a diverse set of issues. A qualitative study was conducted in the form of semi-structured interviews from fifteen parents of children and adolescents from a non-public school for children with ASD. Questions covered the following topic areas: general COVID-19 experiences and concerns, changes in the child’s mood and behavior, changes in parent mood and behavior, and coping/advice. Quotes and descriptions from the participants were reviewed and grouped into thematic areas. Findings showed that parents of children with ASD are facing a wide range of challenges, including explaining COVID-19 and safety precautions to their child in a comprehensible way, assisting with e-learning, and guiding their child back into social situations and the community. As children with ASD have difficulties with transitions, parents stated the importance of creating structure in the home by creating schedules and boundaries, while allowing for flexibility as to not over enforce the rigidity children with autism often face. Advice on coping with the additional stressors were also shared. Parents recommended finding time for themselves to reset, utilizing support systems, and reflecting on daily pleasures as positive coping mechanisms. This study aimed to both develop an initial guide for families, teachers and clinicians caring for children with ASD and to create awareness in the community about the challenges presented by COVID-19 and shelter-in-place.
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