Autistic and non-autistic young people’s and caregivers’ perspectives on COVID-19-related schooling changes and their impact on emotional well-being: An opportunity for change?

Ann Ozsivadjian*, Victoria Milner, Hannah Pickard, Matthew J. Hollocks, Sebastian B. Gaigg, Emma Colvert, Francesca Happé, Iliana Magiati

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Autistic children and young people experience poorer mental health and well-being compared to their non-autistic peers. Navigating the complex social, academic, procedural and sensory aspects of school may be particularly challenging for autistic young people and contribute to poorer mental well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented school changes and provided a unique opportunity to gather caregiver’s and young people’s perspectives on the impact of school and pandemic-related school changes on the well-being of both autistic and non-autistic young people. Open-text online survey data from 71 caregivers (of n = 45 autistic young people) and 30 young people aged 11–18 years (n = 18 autistic) gathered across three timepoints between May and December 2020 during the pandemic revealed both benefits and challenges associated with school changes. Insights into possible lessons from the pandemic and recommendations for more flexible, individualised and strengths-based educational practices going forward are discussed. Lay abstract: Autistic young people experience poorer mental health and well-being compared to their non-autistic peers. Navigating the complex social, academic, procedural and sensory aspects of school may be particularly challenging for autistic young people and contribute to poorer mental well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic caused unprecedented school changes and provided a unique opportunity to gather caregiver’s and young people’s perspectives on the impact of school and pandemic-related school changes on the well-being of both autistic and non-autistic young people. We asked for the views of caregivers and young people aged 11–18 years gathered across three timepoints between May and December 2020. Their responses revealed both benefits and challenges associated with school changes. Insights into possible lessons from the pandemic and recommendations for more flexible, individualised and strengths-based educational practices are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1477-1491
Number of pages15
JournalAutism
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • anxiety
  • autism spectrum disorders
  • education services
  • environmental factors
  • mental health

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