Research into the impact of COVID-19 on children and adolescents with autism receives subsidy by ZonMw

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Research on the impact of COVID-19 on children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families has received funding from the COVID-19 program of ZonMw. Psychological researchers Dr. Linda Dekker, Dr. Ruth Van der Hallen, Dr. Susan van Rijen, Dr. Femke Truijens of Erasmus University Rotterdam will investigate the impact on families and evaluate how autism-friendly the information provided by the government is.

Children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their parents are hit hard by the global COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying measures that have been taken. Adapting to new rules and routines is typically a challenge for anyone with ASD, let alone when not one but most areas of life are affected. Consequently, many children & adolescents with ASD may experience more stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and confusion than usual. On the other hand, some families and children will experience less pressure, due to reduced outside pressure, for example in the area of social interactions.  Parents of children with ASD not only have their own stress and worries, but are also worried about the functioning and well-being of their children.

Aim of the research

The aim of the study is 1) to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on families with children with ASD, 2) to identify risk and protection factors and 3) to evaluate the autism friendliness of the information provided.

The results will be relevant for families of children with ASD, clinical care for families with ASD, and government agencies that formulate policy and communication during such crises.

Collaboration with Mental Health institutions

The research is done with a mix of research methods such as surveys and in-depth interviews. The study takes place in collaboration with three major mental health care institutions (GGZ) specialized in the care of children and adolescents with ASD, namely Erasmus MC - Sophia Children's Hospital, Youz, and Yulius. Also the comparison is made with a large population cohort, Generation R.


Dr. Linda Dekker


Dr. Ruth van der Hallen


Dr. Elisabeth van Rijen


Dr. Femke Truijens

More information

Marjolein Kooistra, Press officer  ESSB,, + 31 6 83676038

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