People with autism “left stranded” throughout coronavirus pandemic

People with autism may have been “left stranded” throughout the coronavirus pandemic, a major report has revealed.

The research, published by charity the National Autism Society (NAS), is among the first to look at the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on autistic people and their families.

According to the report, the pandemic has had a “disproportionate and devastating impact the mental health, wellbeing and education prospects of hundreds of thousands of autistic people and their families”.

In total, nine in 10 people with autism say their mental wellbeing has decreased, with a similar number (85 per cent) reporting that their anxiety has gotten worse.

Autistic people, meanwhile, were “seven times more likely to be chronically lonely” and “six times more likely to have low life satisfaction” when compared to the general population.

The pandemic has also had a physical impact on the lives of people with autism, with support workers unable to make regular or routine appointments. This has had a knock-on effect on families, with one in five parents reporting having to reduce work hours to take up additional caring responsibilities.

A further seven in 10 parents say their autistic child’s academic progress was “suffering”.

Commenting on the study, Caroline Stevens, Chief Executive of NAS, said: “Autistic people and their families have been struggling to get the care, support and understanding they need for years and things have been made even harder by coronavirus. They’ve been left completed stranded.

“If you’re autistic, small changes and unexpected events can trigger intense anxiety. So the disruption and pace of change during the coronavirus outbreak has been incredibly hard. On top of this, support from some public services disappeared overnight, leading to impossible pressures on families and many feeling abandoned.”

She added: “In case of another wave or further local or national lockdowns, all governments in the UK must take urgent action to make sure the needs of autistic people and their families are better met next time.”

According to the latest statistics, autism affects around one in every 100 people, meaning there are around 700,000 individuals on the autism spectrum in the UK.

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