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Psychosocial and Behavioral Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Adolescents with Autism and Their Families: Overview of the Literature and Initial Data from a Multinational Online Survey

1
Social Potential in Autism Research Unit & Department of General Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany
2
Social Potential in Autism Research Unit & Department of Social Psychology, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany
3
DFG Scientific Network “Understanding Others”, SCHN 1481/2-1, 10117 Berlin, Germany
4
Early Support and Counseling Center Jena, Herbert Feuchte Stiftungsverbund, 07743 Jena, Germany
5
Department of Psychiatry, Jena University Hospital, 07743 Jena, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Academic Editor: Alyx Taylor
Healthcare 2022, 10(4), 714; https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10040714
Received: 8 March 2022 / Revised: 5 April 2022 / Accepted: 7 April 2022 / Published: 12 April 2022
Since COVID-19 has become a pandemic, everyday life has seen dramatic changes affecting individuals, families, and children with and without autism. Among other things, these changes entail more time at home, digital forms of communication, school closures, and reduced support and intervention. Here, we assess the effects of the pandemic on quality of life for school-age autistic and neurotypical children and adolescents. First, we provide a comprehensive review of the current relevant literature. Next, we report original data from a survey conducted in several countries, assessing activities, well-being, and social life in families with autism, and their changes over time. We focus on differences between children with and without autism from within the same families, and on different outcomes for children with high- or low-functioning autism. While individuals with autism scored lower in emotional and social functioning than their neurotypical siblings, both groups of children showed comparable decreases in well-being and increases in anxiety, compared to before the pandemic. By contrast, decreases in adaptability were significantly more pronounced in autistic children and adolescents compared to neurotypical children and adolescents. Overall, although individual families reported some positive effects of pandemic restrictions, our data provide no evidence that these generalize across children and adolescents with autism, or even just to individuals with high-functioning autism. We discuss the increased challenges that need to be addressed to protect children and adolescents’ well-being under pandemic conditions, but also point out potentials in the present situation that could be used towards social participation and success in older children and young adults with autism. View Full-Text
Keywords: COVID-19; autism; children; adolescents; quality of life; well-being; intervention; families COVID-19; autism; children; adolescents; quality of life; well-being; intervention; families
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kreysa, H.; Schneider, D.; Kowallik, A.E.; Dastgheib, S.S.; Doğdu, C.; Kühn, G.; Ruttloff, J.M.; Schweinberger, S.R. Psychosocial and Behavioral Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Adolescents with Autism and Their Families: Overview of the Literature and Initial Data from a Multinational Online Survey. Healthcare 2022, 10, 714. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10040714

AMA Style

Kreysa H, Schneider D, Kowallik AE, Dastgheib SS, Doğdu C, Kühn G, Ruttloff JM, Schweinberger SR. Psychosocial and Behavioral Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Adolescents with Autism and Their Families: Overview of the Literature and Initial Data from a Multinational Online Survey. Healthcare. 2022; 10(4):714. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10040714

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kreysa, Helene, Dana Schneider, Andrea E. Kowallik, Samaneh S. Dastgheib, Cem Doğdu, Gabriele Kühn, Jenny M. Ruttloff, and Stefan R. Schweinberger. 2022. "Psychosocial and Behavioral Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Children and Adolescents with Autism and Their Families: Overview of the Literature and Initial Data from a Multinational Online Survey" Healthcare 10, no. 4: 714. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare10040714

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