The quarantine due to Corona 19 has hit everyone hard. Many people are struggling with their mental health and isolation. There is a particular group that has been hit very hard during this time. The lockdown has had a huge impact on mothers and their autistic children. .
The services and help they have been getting including medical and behavioral support have been stopped or moved to an online platform. The stress levels of the mothers and the impact this quarantine has on the children is making it hard for this population to make progress and function.
COVID 19 and the Disruption in Therapeutic Services
Autistic children have services in the home and the school settings. These services include therapy and behavioral support. These children had their services disrupted due to quarantine and social distancing. Children younger than 5 may be feeling the impact of social distancing and lack of available services. More than 72 percent of children younger than the age of 5 had their services disrupted. School-aged children saw a 63 percent reduction in their services. These services including speech and behavioral therapy. Around 36 percent are receiving these services remotely but less than half of the mothers are reporting on the benefits of these services. Mothers are feeling stressed with the additional workload. The children are also feeling the stress. They have seen a change in their schedule and that is leading to feelings of stress and some are even feeling overwhelmed. Autistic children like a schedule and they like to know what is going to happen next. These changes are making it difficult for them to have a sense of normalcy.
The mothers have an increased feeling of stress and they are worried about the physical and mental health of their child. There are some things that most people do not think of that are having a big impact on their population. Grocery stores are experiencing food shortages and they may not have specific items in stock. If a child is not able to get their preferred food or if they are on a special diet the foods may not be available. This is even making mealtime difficult. Now the mothers need to provide food that their child would want and needs to find a way to get it. Mothers do not have the behavioral support and guidance of a professional that they need. This is leaving the mothers feeling overwhelmed.
Mothers of school-aged autistic children and having difficulty making sure their child’s educational needs are met. While most schools offer online services this is a huge change in the routine. Mothers are now having to play the role of teachers and they may not have all of the materials that they need at home to effectively teach their child. These children are missing out on their academics since it is difficult to meet all of their modifications in the home setting.
While mothers are trying to explain to their children with autism about the changes in the world and why they are not seeing familiar people anymore it is hard to get them to fully understand the situation. These children are not able to fully process the reality of what is going on and why everything in their life has changed. They do not understand this change and this is leading to feelings of distress. The verbal children can express some of their frustrations. It is even more difficult for mothers that autistic children that are nonverbal. They are not able to express their fears and any distress they are feeling. This has led to situations where the child is displaying a regression in behavior and the mothers do not have the behavior support to handle these changes. They do not have the professional to help determine appropriate behavior interventions. Coronavirus is affecting the entire population and the way that people have become used to functioning. Mothers and their autistic children have been hit especially hard. The parents and the child are no longer getting the support that they need and the services they use for help are not available. These mothers are struggling to provide a new sense of normalcy for their children in this tough time and meet their mental health needs.