IAR Study Examines Short-term Effects of Covid-19 Stay-at-Home Restrictions on Youth with ASD

September 8, 2021

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Researchers from the Institute for Autism Research (IAR) assessed the potential short-term effects of Covid-19 stay-at-home restrictions on ratings of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and comorbid symptoms severity and adaptive functioning of 69 youth, ages 8–16 years with ASD (without intellectual disability). The research team included Christopher Lopata, PsyD; Jonathan D. Rodgers, PhD; James P. Donnelly, PhD; Marcus L. Thomeer, PhD; Jennifer Lodi-Smith, PhD and graduate assistants Zoe L. Gionis, Samantha L. Andrews and Christian J. Rajnisz.

Parent/caregiver ratings were collected in fall and spring over approximately two years when the restrictions were imposed four months prior to the final data collection point. Results indicated no significant changes in parent/caregiver ratings of ASD symptom severity, comorbid symptoms severity (e.g., disruptive behaviors, anxiety, depression, etc.), social skills, or adaptive behaviors following the stay-at-home restrictions and little variability across the four data collection points.

“Although the Covid-19 stay-at-home restrictions abruptly changed the established routines of these youth more than halfway through the school year, it is possible that this disruption was no more distressing than the challenges encountered on a regular basis in the school setting,” said Dr. Rodgers.

Findings suggested minimal short-term effects on these symptoms and adaptive skills, however, ongoing monitoring is needed to assess longer-term impacts. The research was published in the Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities (July 2021). Read the study here.

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