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Article

Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Peers: An Online Survey

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Department of History, Society, and Human Studies, University of Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy
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Laboratory of Applied Psychology, Department of History, Society, and Human Studies, University of Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy
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Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, Università della Svizzera Italiana, Via Buffi 13, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland
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Department of Human and Social Sciences, University of Bergamo, 23129 Bergamo, Italy
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IRCCS Stella Maris Foundation, 56018 Pisa, Italy
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Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
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Adult Autism Center, Mental Health Department, Local Health Unit ASL Città di Torino, 10138 Turin, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul E. Engelhardt
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(6), 808; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060808
Received: 21 May 2021 / Revised: 11 June 2021 / Accepted: 15 June 2021 / Published: 18 June 2021
Background: When COVID-19 was declared as a pandemic, many countries imposed severe lockdowns that changed families’ routines and negatively impacted on parents’ and children’s mental health. Several studies on families with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) revealed that lockdown increased the difficulties faced by individuals with ASD, as well as parental distress. No studies have analyzed the interplay between parental distress, children’s emotional responses, and adaptive behaviors in children with ASD considering the period of the mandatory lockdown. Furthermore, we compared families with children on the spectrum and families with typically developing (TD) children in terms of their distress, children’s emotional responses, and behavioral adaptation. Methods: In this study, 120 parents of children aged 5–10 years (53 with ASD) participated. Results: In the four tested models, children’s positive and negative emotional responses mediated the impact of parental distress on children’s playing activities. In the ASD group, parents reported that their children expressed more positive emotions, but fewer playing activities, than TD children. Families with children on the spectrum reported greater behavioral problems during the lockdown and more parental distress. Conclusions: Our findings inform the interventions designed for parents to reduce distress and to develop coping strategies to better manage the caregiver–child relationship. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; autism spectrum disorder; survey; children; lockdown; parental distress; emotion responses; adaptive behavior; typically developing; mediation COVID-19; autism spectrum disorder; survey; children; lockdown; parental distress; emotion responses; adaptive behavior; typically developing; mediation
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MDPI and ACS Style

Levante, A.; Petrocchi, S.; Bianco, F.; Castelli, I.; Colombi, C.; Keller, R.; Narzisi, A.; Masi, G.; Lecciso, F. Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Peers: An Online Survey. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 808. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060808

AMA Style

Levante A, Petrocchi S, Bianco F, Castelli I, Colombi C, Keller R, Narzisi A, Masi G, Lecciso F. Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Peers: An Online Survey. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(6):808. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060808

Chicago/Turabian Style

Levante, Annalisa, Serena Petrocchi, Federica Bianco, Ilaria Castelli, Costanza Colombi, Roberto Keller, Antonio Narzisi, Gabriele Masi, and Flavia Lecciso. 2021. "Psychological Impact of COVID-19 Outbreak on Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typically Developing Peers: An Online Survey" Brain Sciences 11, no. 6: 808. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060808

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