A Longitudinal Study of the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents with Autism and their Parents during COVID-19: Part 2, Qualitative Findings

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DatePublished - 5 Oct 2021
PublisherPsyArXiv Preprints
Number of pages27
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In Part 1 of this United Kingdom based study (Toseeb & Asbury, 2021), across four timepoints between March and October 2020, children and young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) showed higher levels of parent-reported depression and anxiety symptoms than those with other Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SENDs). Here, we used qualitative data from 517 parents/carers of young people with ASD and other SENDs to conduct a longitudinal qualitative content analysis examining stability and change in the mental health of these young people, and their parents/carers, during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Worry and psychological distress were dominant categories at all timepoints and we noted that, in line with quantitative findings, worry in CYP with ASD stayed stable over time but decreased for those with other SENDs. The third dominant category was wellbeing and we saw evidence that removing demands, especially the demand to attend school, was a driver of wellbeing for a significant minority of pupils, particularly those with ASD, and their parents/carers. Overall, we observed no differences in mental health experiences between the two groups of parents, also mirroring quantitative findings.

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