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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 44-45

Social distancing continues: Social subtlety in children with autism spectrum disorder post-COVID-19 pandemic

1 Department of Special Education, APL Global International School, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission04-Oct-2021
Date of Decision04-Nov-2021
Date of Acceptance19-Dec-2021
Date of Web Publication16-May-2022

Correspondence Address:
Mr. Pallerla Srikanth
Department of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Hosur Main Road, Bengaluru - 560 029, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jphpc.jphpc_32_21

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How to cite this article:
Wilson J, Srikanth P. Social distancing continues: Social subtlety in children with autism spectrum disorder post-COVID-19 pandemic. J Public Health Prim Care 2022;3:44-5

How to cite this URL:
Wilson J, Srikanth P. Social distancing continues: Social subtlety in children with autism spectrum disorder post-COVID-19 pandemic. J Public Health Prim Care [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Jul 5];3:44-5. Available from: http://www.jphpc.com/text.asp?2022/3/2/44/345274

The unleash of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the physical and social distance between individuals creating rapid changes in our daily lives and on the wider society. Restrictions to prevent the virus made people rely on device-mediated communication facilitating work, education, and socializing from home (Will, 2020) mentions in his article that the TechBridge which was intended to reduce the growing social distancing between people has begun to cause “zoom fatigues” and “touch starvations,” since feelings and cohesion could not be conveyed as it is in real-life interactions.[1] Vicious spread of the COVID-19 virus influences individuals with chronic mental conditions excessively, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the most common neurodevelopmental condition across the world with a prevalence of 1% mentions.[2]

ASD is defined by the American Psychological Association (2013) as a neurodevelopment disorder that affects the daily functioning of an individual and the symptoms persist early during development characterized along with complications in social communication and social interaction, behavior patterns, and interests are restricted and repetitive.[3] Skills of communication and social interaction in children are essential for their emotional and behavioral development and any mishap leads to poor academic achievement and social integration. Children with ASD (CwASD) demonstrate social alienation during school-age years by inventing imaginary friends, worlds, or scenarios as a response toward the difficulties they experience during socialization and maintaining social connections. CwASD often prefers being alone and may passively accept hugs, kisses, and cuddling without reciprocating it and try to resist attention altogether.

The pandemic facilitates unpredictability and persistent effects of separation, isolation, and quarantine paves challenges and vulnerabilities in CwASD (Sharon, 2020) substantiates COVID-19-related variations occurring in living conditions such as extended isolation and quarantine can source inflexibility and insistence on sameness and risking the CwASD to follow a sequence of limited and repetitive behaviors.[4] Transition of daily routines during the lockdown invented discrepancies for CwASD since they are bound to a rigid restricted routine. Employment concerns of parents, uncertainty in family finances, inconsistent access to health care and treatment facilities, unavailability of education catering to specific needs of the children, and extensions of the government curfews cripples the family or support systems of CwASD and making the social circumstances difficult within families. Since parents or the caregivers form the primary social system in the life of CwASD, the children experience problems in expressing their needs and inabilities to cope with the family changes which the pandemic has impeded in their lives.

Levels of intervention integrated with responses to solve aberrations enforced by the lockdowns can contribute to the social betterment of the children. Institution-based services can be delivered across regions through virtual platforms as the awareness of E-literacy spread viciously. The emergence of helplines to facilitate accessibility to preexisting health communities can ease the provision of medical support for CwASD and their families. Multidisciplinary team comprising physicians, psychiatrists, counselors, nurses, special educators, social workers, and therapists can offer guidance and services which balance the medical and behavioral needs of CwASD. Families can involve CwASD in interactive methods which sharpen their receptive and expressive communication with the use of online games, virtual classrooms, meditations, and behavioral modification activities. Manning et al. suggest in their study that enhanced coping mechanisms of the caregivers can enable them to manage the needs and provide improved care for CwASD.[5]

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Mutluer T, Doenyas C, Aslan Genc H. Behavioral implications of the COVID-19 process for autism spectrum disorder, and individuals' comprehension of and reactions to the pandemic conditions. Front Psychiatry 2020;11:561882.  Back to cited text no. 1
Johnson E. Is video chat a sufficient proxy for face-to-face interaction? Biosociological reflections on life during the COVID-19 pandemic [Internet]. This View Of Life - Anything and everything from an evolutionary perspective. 2020. Available from: https://thisviewoflife.com/is-video-chat-a-sufficient-proxy-for-face-to-face-interaction-biosociological-reflections-on-life-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/. [Last accessed on 2022 Apr 11].  Back to cited text no. 2
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders. (n.d.); 2013. Available from: https://www.apa.org/topics/autism-spectrum-disorder. [Last accessed on 2021 Oct 01].  Back to cited text no. 3
Smile SC. Supporting children with autism spectrum disorder in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. CMAJ 2020;192:E587.  Back to cited text no. 4
Manning J, Billian J, Matson J, Allen C, Soares N. Perceptions of families of individuals with autism spectrum disorder during the COVID-19 crisis. J Autism Dev Disord 2021;51:2920-8.  Back to cited text no. 5


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