The coronavirus pandemic is altering autism research in unprecedented ways. It also has had a huge impact on the diagnosis and treatment of the condition. This special report wraps up Spectrum’s coverage so far on the myriad reverberations of the virus within the autism community.
In the academic world, conferences have been cancelled and labs have put clinical trials on hold, moved their efforts online or shuttered altogether. Scientific journals are extending deadlines for authors and editors, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health is similarly granting researchers greater flexibility in their applications, budgets and progress reports. Scientists are redesigning some studies for a socially distanced world. Clinicians, meanwhile, are rethinking how to screen for autism and offer therapy remotely.
For some people on the spectrum, life in lockdown is aggravating anxiety and other autism traits. Women and children with autism, and those living in group homes, seem particularly hard hit by the pandemic, although the experiences of autistic people have been almost as varied as the condition itself.
This special report also includes advice for families on managing lockdown from researchers and advocates, and calls for maintaining disability services and disability rights during the crisis. In a podcast and two webinars, you can listen to autistic people, clinicians and researchers discuss the pandemic and their experiences.