A qualitative examination of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and adolescents with autism and their parents

Jenna Stadheim, Ashley Johns, Melissa Mitchell, Christopher J. Smith, B. Blair Braden, Nicole L. Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The unprecedented challenges introduced by the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be amplified for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. Aims: The current study aimed to describe the experiences of children with ASD and their families during the pandemic and to identify the needs of this community during emergency situations. Methods and procedures: Participants were 122 parents of 122 children and adolescents (aged 3–18 years; one parent per family participated) with ASD living in Arizona, USA who participated in the first time point (July/August 2020) of a larger longitudinal survey study. A qualitative approach based in grounded theory methodology was used to analyze six open-ended survey questions. Outcomes and results: The resulting conceptual model included a core category, Longing for Stability, and four main categories: Public Health Measures Yielding New Challenges and Unexpected Gains, Experiencing Abrupt Changes across Developmental Domains, Changing Family Dynamics, and Protective Factors. Conclusions: Findings add to limited research examining whether, and how, emergency events uniquely impact the ASD community, identifying potential methods by which services can be proactively adapted to best support the needs of children with ASD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104232
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume125
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • COVID-19
  • Caregivers
  • Children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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