issues and experts
SFU researchers urge more support for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder during pandemic
Families caring for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are already at risk of experiencing high levels of stress and strain due to the behavioural and learning challenges their children face. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this situation due to families being isolated and cut off from essential government support services.
Preliminary findings of a study by SFU and ACT – Autism Community Training (ACT), which surveyed 238 caregivers of children with ASD in B.C., found that anxiety, tantrums, daily routine and sleep quality have worsened in the majority of children during the pandemic. More than a third of parents report safety concerns for their family and almost 10 per cent have considered putting their child into care.
Psychology researcher Grace Iarocci, director of SFU’s Autism and Development Disorders Lab, is urging the provincial government to better support the needs of children with special needs or risk devastating consequences.
“We knew that families of children with ASD were under tremendous stress, but as researchers we are shocked by the severity of the pressures they were experiencing even before the pandemic and how much worse it has become,” says Iarocci. “Our hope is that the provincial government will pay attention to this data and listen to families and act to provide the support families need.”
The findings of the study – funded by Mitacs, Kids Brain Health Network and ACT – were presented today at a Kids Brain Health Network conference.
AVAILABLE SFU EXPERTS
Grace Iarocci, professor of psychology, SFU's Autism and Development Disorders Lab
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Matt Kieltyka, SFU Communications & Marketing
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