By Michael Rock:

As the COVID-19 coronavirus has spread globally, new developments in our general ability to understand its impact develop each day. For its relationship to those with disabilities, this rule has been no exception.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called for all adult day services in the state to close.

In New York City, the epicenter of the virus, shortages of key protective supplies, such as masks, gowns, and gloves, rendered direct service providers at the AABR unable to safely pick up and bring back twelve residents who were tested for the virus to their group homes, leading to them staying in the hospitals longer than necessary.

Reach, Inc. of Bozeman, Montana, which offers similar residential services, has experienced similar shortages

The coronavirus can also make day-to-day life more difficult to those with developmental and intellectual disabilities such as autism who thrive under structure and routine, with the disruptions the pandemic has caused causing them a much greater deal of stress than others.

Moreover, the “social distancing” that has been encouraged amid the outbreak can be more difficult for those the most impaired. They may need direct care workers to help them in such intimate endeavors as handwashing and may struggle to understand the precautionary measures necessary to prevent the spreading the virus. 

While the coronavirus pandemic has impacted all of us negatively, its effects are often much more pronounced and unique for people with disabilities.

Michael Rock is a New York City-based reporter and self-advocate with autism. A graduate of Brandeis University, his work has appeared in Kings County Politics, Chelsea Now, Our Town, Queens County Politics, and WhoWhatWhy.