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New research highlights long-term impact of Covid-19 restrictions on children with autism

The report highlights a decline in children’s abilities and skills since the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions.

Image: Shutterstock/Zahraa Photography

NEW RESEARCH FROM Dublin City University has highlighted the challenges faced by young people with autism during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The report highlights a decline in children’s abilities and skills since the introduction of the restrictions and an increase in some challenging behaviours.

It is part of an ongoing study examining the long-term impacts of Covid-related restrictions on the wellbeing of individuals with ASD and their parents.

Some 74% of parents of a child or children with ASD reported that they would be faced with unique challenges over the coming weeks as restrictions are lifted, particularly difficulties in relation to social skills due to the lack of social interaction, and challenges with leaving the house due to anxiety.

It also looks at challenges for children with autism in understanding and adhering to the social distancing and public health guidelines when out in public.

In relation to abilities and skills, a decline of 61% was recorded in children involved in the research

The survey consisted of 107 parents of a child or children with autism, who responded with respect to 119 children aged 18 and under.  

Of those, there was a decline in a child’s ability to self-regulate emotions in 34% of children, and a decline in motivation to engage in activities, including school work, in 18% of children.

In addition, there was a decline in academic skills such as maths, reading and writing observed in 14% of children.

“For children and young people with ASD, adapting to change at such a rapid rate has been very difficult and it is clear from our findings that these children and their parents are experiencing a multitude of unique challenges,” Dr Sinead Smyth of DCU’s School of Psychology said. 

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“Additional challenges arise as restrictions are lifted and children incorporate more activities into their lives again.

“Going back to school, for example, may be more difficult for children this year not only given the long gap since they last attended, but also because their school routine will be different and classrooms will look different due to new public health measures.”

Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to investigate waiting lists for and delays to public ASD assessment. See how you can support this project here.

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