School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


John King


Autism spectrum disorder, ASD, professional support, COVID-19, parents


Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences


COVID-19 changes and restrictions have necessitated a change in the way schools, mental health providers, medical providers, and other educational and therapy services provide for children with autism. This study explores, in-depth, the experience of parents of children with ASD as they have navigated the COVID-19 required changes to professional treatment and services for children with ASD and their families. Research suggests that raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be an overwhelming experience for parents and families, and greater family burden is positively associated with the number of unmet professional help service needs. As services were moved to online or discontinued during COVID-19 in Washington state, participants experienced a reduced access to care and describe in this study how it impacted their families. Specifically, parents and children preferred professional supports that were in person and when treating the child, participants appreciated a whole family approach where they were included in the therapy process but were not compelled to provide the therapy. Parents added that the further isolation that lockdowns, move to online therapies, online schooling, and shutting down of parks, and other venues had an outsized negative impact on them and their family. The systemic family impact of the COVID-19 mitigation efforts by providers of professional supports were significant to parents and varied across delivery methods, age of the children, parental transgenerational challenges, and other significant factors.

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