By Michael Rock:
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to provide people with developmental disabilities unique challenges.
The closing of in-person disability services can be difficult for those with autism and related developmental disabilities who may struggle with the eye contact necessary to use Zoom or FaceTime as an alternative. The lack of structure may serve to exacerbate existing challenges and problematic behaviors for those with such disabilities.
The decrease in available services also has led to increased stress for both people with such conditions, due in no small part to the need for routine change in this time, as well as for their families, who no longer have the respite they usually get from in-person programs.
Other fears have included the sacrifice of people with disabilities who catch severe cases of coronavirus by denying them key treatment, such as ventilators, in favor of those without disabilities.
Moreover, for those who have particularly low levels of independence and who live in group homes, the isolation crucial to preventing the coronavirus’ spread is not always an option due to their need for intimate care from direct care professionals in their residences.
The challenges the pandemic has posed for these direct care professionals has demonstrated just how important they are, with a trade association in Rhode Island calling to raise their hourly rates to better help them cover the increased costs of the emergency.
These issues demonstrate just how challenging COVID-19 can be for people with disabilities, their families, and the direct care professionals who provide for their needs. More supports are necessary to help all of them during this time.
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.