An Expert Discussion on Autism in the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Autism in Adulthood

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COVID-19 (Disease) -- United States -- Health care


We are living in uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the need to stay physically distant from each other, has required us to make very rapid changes to our everyday lives and wider society. The impact of the pandemic will likely be even more significant for autistic people—difficulties managing unexpected change and uncertainty, high risk of vulnerability, and health inequalities could all be magnified in the pandemic. However, with challenge and change can come opportunity. For years, disability advocates and their allies have campaigned for reasonable adjustments to enable autistic people to better access social spaces, health care, education, and employment. Adjustments we have identified and prioritized together with the autism community, such as making appointments and receiving therapy online, have not been implemented. However, in the current crisis, these adjustments have finally had to happen for everyone, and quickly. This could have the unintended but positive effect of finally addressing longstanding barriers for autistic people's inclusion in society that have been languishing for years.

The current extent of the impact of the pandemic on autistic adults is unknown. An important first step is to identify and discuss the challenges and opportunities that the COVID-19 pandemic poses autistic adults, incorporating a variety of perspectives. This roundtable, therefore, aims to bring together autistic adults, their families, practitioners, and academics across the fields of disability rights, public health, medicine, psychology, and mental health across different countries and contexts. Our discussion focuses on what we need to be aware of to address the issues of interest to autistic adults in the pandemic now, how we can address these issues, and make tangible recommendations to be addressed in future research, policy, and practice.


Copyright 2020, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers



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