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In March 2020, the World Health Organisation classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 surpassed the expectations of health experts and lead to the implementation of extraordinary measures. These measures have put a strain on many people’s lives, especially the lives of people on the autism spectrum. It is crucial that the rights of autistic people are not overlooked and that pre-existing issues are not intensified at this time of crisis and confinement.
To help autistic people and their families navigate through this difficult period and to shed light on issues arising from the crisis, AE has published a series of documents, resources and articles on COVID-19. This page will be updated regularly with new resources and information as the situation surrounding COVID-19 unfolds.
COVID-19 vaccination of autistic people
Autistic people are people with disabilities, too. Yet, people on the autism spectrum do not always have priority access to vaccination. AE deplores that institutions where autistic people are living have become hotbeds for COVID-19 Furthermore, there has been a lack of resources for accessibility of vaccinations. AE understands vaccination scepticism as there can always be immunological reactions and side effects to any vaccination as well as varying degrees of effectiveness. AE is aware of divergent opinions about vaccinations in general. The effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine is very high and the chances of experiencing side effects from scientifically proven vaccinations is very low.
Released in December 2020, this report outlines the findings of the survey conducted by Autism-Europe, as well as incorporates media reports and findings from its member’s associations and academia, to bring awareness to the experiences and challenges of autistic people and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have outlined recommendations for how autistic people and their families can be better supported during the pandemic and beyond.
At this time, it is essential that autistic people and their families are provided with resources and accessible tools to understand and communicate about the situation and constant changes linked to the COVID-19. To support this need, Autism-Europe has gathered useful resources and tips from our members, partners and other stakeholders from across Europe in different languages on how to deal with issues surrounding COVID-19. The list includes resources to help cope with stress and uncertainty, social stories and visual guides, and other support initiatives, resources and tips from the autism community.
In response to the crisis, Autism-Europe created a survey on the situation of autistic people and their families during the COVID-19 spread.
Autistic people and their families were invited to answer and disseminate the survey which was available in the following languages: English, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Bulgarian, Greek and Ukrainian.
The result of the survey will be used to elaborate policy recommendations.
Schooling options for autistic pupils narrowed
The measures introduced amid the COVID-19 spread have had a major impact on the schooling options for autistic pupils across Europe. Autistic learners and their families often need individualised planning and support taking into account their context as well as developmental and academic levels.
Autism-Europe gathered examples from some of its member organisations regarding how the return to school is developing across different European countries and regions, and what are the main challenges and specific measures that governments are adopting in relation to inclusive education.
Autism Europe’s News
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- European Parliament’s Disability Intergroup meeting calls for a disability specific response to COVID-19
- Preventing and combating violence against women is more relevant than ever in the time of COVID-19
Related publications and policy statements
European Disability Forum: Open letter to leaders at the EU and in EU countries: COVID-19 – Disability inclusive response
European Expert Group on the transition from institutional to community-based care: Joint Statement: “COVID-19 crisis: People living in institutions must not be written off”