Nearly Two-Thirds of Parents Report COVID-19 Service Disruptions Worsened ASD Symptoms in Their Children

January 10, 2021

Over Three-Quarters of Parents Experienced Moderate to Extreme Stress Over Service Interruptions

A survey of 3502 parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) conducted by Simons Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) has demonstrated that most individuals on the spectrum experienced significant disruptions to their therapies and programs during last spring’s stay-at-home orders. The survey’s results revealed that most autism therapies did not occur during the early part of the pandemic. Furthermore, the respondents reported that services which adapted to the telehealth format provided very little benefit. Children under five suffered the most, experiencing significantly disrupted services, according to the study. Additionally, this young age group reported the least amount of benefit from telehealth services. Almost two-thirds (64%) of all parents reported that changes in daily life coupled with therapy disruptions resulted in worsening ASD symptoms, behavioral challenges and decreased mental well-being in their child. Managing these increased symptoms and maladaptive behaviors put a significant strain on caregivers and families. Three-fourths of parents reported extreme to moderate stress due to the pandemic’s service disruptions. The study’s authors recommend developing strategies to support the ASD community immediately as COVID continues. 

Original Study

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