The Serbian Experience of Challenges of Parenting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the State of Emergency with the Police Lockdown
16 Pages Posted: 12 May 2020More...
Background: For the first time in a century, the world society is faced with the pandemic which is the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). There is a lack of information to address the challenges and needs of families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is known to significantly affect the daily lives of diagnosed individuals and their families. The strict restriction of movement possibly creates new under-studied conditions even for families with typically developing children. The conditions affecting those diagnosed with ASD are likely more prevalent and pronounced.
Aim: The aim of this study is to provide a comprehensive exploration of challenges experienced by parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Serbia during the COVID-19 pandemic and police lockdown.
Subjects and Methods: Participants completed the “Autism and COVID-19” survey, which is designed for parents and primary caregivers of children diagnosed with ASD. A sample of 85 parents completed survey in this study. This sample was recruited from patient databases, the parents' association (NGOs), the specialized schools, as well as a stratified method of survey delivery (i.e. parent to parent). The study began 7 days after the introduction of the police lockdown in Serbia and last next 7 days.
Results: Total of 85 parents completed the questionnaire. We analyzed data of parents' concerns related to pandemic and state of emergency, and also about medical and additional services, home help or additional education relevant to their child's needs, feeling of helplessness and discrimination, overall satisfaction with the support, main challenges related to the child's behaviour and challenges that parents face in receiving the support for the child.
Conclusions: The survey revealed a lack of support, feelings of helplessness, various challenges and needs amongst parents which, although present before, have become more prominent during emergency state. At the beginning of police lockdown, most parents of children diagnosed with ASD handle their children on their own, which suggests that the government needs better plans and strategies for future similar situations.
Funding Statement: None.
Declaration of Interests: None.
Ethics Approval Statement: The study procedures were carried out in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki, and approvals of the Ethical Committee of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Belgrade. All participants were informed about the study, and all provided informed consent via online system.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorders, parenting, challenges, COVID-19, pandemic, police lockdown
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