Autism becomes harder to spot in pandemic
Pandemic raises anxiety of children with autism
Pandemic treatment processes should not be disrupted
Experts point out that the pandemic process affects children and families with autism more, and that constant changes in conditions in the pandemic force children and their families spiritually. “Difficulty in socializing, which is the most obvious feature of autism, can cause families to notice differences in their children late, with reduced opportunities to socialize already in the pandemic,” the experts warn. During the pandemic process, it is recommended that symptoms be well observed and that treatments not be disrupted.
April 2 is commemorated worldwide as World Autism Awareness Day. “World Autism Awareness Day” was declared by the United Nations to raise awareness about autism and to find solutions to autism-related problems. Within the framework of “Autism Awareness Month”, which started on April 2, it is aimed to encourage research on autism in the world, to increase awareness on this issue, and to spread early detection and treatment.
Uskudar University NP Etiler Medical Center Child Adolescent Psychiatry Specialist Assistant. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagoz Yuksel evaluated the effects of the pandemic process on children with autism in his statement on the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day.
Children with autism more affected by Pandemic
An assist stating that every child and family is affected during the pandemic process, but children with autism are more affected. Assoc. Dr.said "Research shows that children and adolescents with autism among children are one of the groups most affected by the pandemic. There have been many different factors affecting individuals with autism in the pandemic. Diagnosis of young children, treatment approaches of diagnosed children, mental states of children, mental states of parents and their reflection on the child are the first of these factors,”.
Autism becomes harder to spot in pandemic
Noting that the recognition of children with symptoms that have not yet been diagnosed may be delayed in this process, Asst. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagoz Yuksel said the following:
"One of the reasons for this is that some families are hesitant to contact medical institutions. Some families also tend to link the different behaviors they see in their children to the effects of the pandemic and want to wait. But this condition causes a delay in diagnosis in the presence of an underlying neurodevelopmental disorder. However, difficulty in socializing, which is the most obvious feature of autism, can cause families to notice differences in their children late, with reduced opportunities for socializing already in a pandemic. However, early recognition of autism and starting treatment is very important and is an important condition for the well-being of the child. Parents should not wait in the presence of doubt and contact a medical facility where a face-to-face assessment can be provided.”
There have been disruptions in education
An assist noted that the education of children with autism was also affected by the pandemic process. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagoz Yuksel said, " During the pandemic period, schools and special educational institutions have been closed for one semester and there are currently disruptions in providing pre-pandemic educational opportunities in education. This prevents children from receiving adequate treatment. Similarly, due to the closure of venues and curfew restrictions, the opportunities for physical activity have decreased. A decrease in the amount of education and physical activity also affects the mental state of children,”.
An assist noted that this process, accompanied by a pandemic, increases the risk of anxiety disorders and depression, which can be observed besides in children and adolescents with autism. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagoz Yuksel said, " Children with autism tend to have difficulty controlling their emotions, impulsivity, and behavioral problems. Not only in children but also in parents, we see increased mental distress,”.
Uncertainty in pandemic leads to mental difficulties
An assist emphasized that individuals with autism find it difficult to adapt to changes and tend to continue their old routines. Assoc. Dr. Said "For this reason, the uncertainty characteristic of the pandemic period, the constant change of conditions (for example, curfew hours), Forces children and their families spiritually. However, changing information about pandemics and coronavirus and excessive news flow makes it difficult for people with autism to follow the process and causes them to feel anxious. Although individuals with autism have difficulty socializing and their state of being in their state stands out, they also express their sadness at not seeing their friends and acquaintances. This condition becomes more pronounced as age progresses, "
Children with autism had difficulty following the rules
During the pandemic period, it is not easy for children to explain the cleaning and social distance measures that individuals should apply and for children to follow these rules. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagoz Yuksel said, " It is more difficult for people with autism to understand and internalize these rules. Being forced to follow these rules stresses children with autism. This process is more difficult, especially if the child is young and has additional learning problems. Information about pandemics and coronavirus should be applied in special training modules to ensure that the rules are learned. It would be appropriate for special education experts to be informed about the mental disorders that children will experience with changing conditions and to be trained to ensure that the rules related to the pandemic are learned by the child as much as possible,”
Treatment processes should not be disrupted
Asst. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagoz Yuksel stated that the treatment of children with autism should not be interrupted in this process and said:
"Although social isolation is challenging for everyone, it is thought that the effects of the period we live in will be clearer in later times. In this process, it is very important to ensure that as many face-to-face training and face-to-face health services are continued by the authorities as possible. Families are required to contact a child psychiatrist if they suspect autism. Children who have been diagnosed should not be delayed by their families in the negotiations they need for diagnosis and treatment. During this period, it will be useful not only for children but also for their families to resort to stress-reducing techniques.”