Coronavirus and autism: how can Covid-19 affect autistic children?

A constant feature in the news in recent days is COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. In addition, it is no wonder: the new disease has already reached a pandemic state, contaminating people from all over the world.

Moreover, at this point, many questions may arise: what is the coronavirus? Coronavirus and autism? How should we prevent ourselves? To answer these questions, we gathered information from official bodies and we counted on the help of neurologist Dr. Marcelo Masruha. Continue reading and learn more!

Coronavirus and COVID-19

As it is a new disease, there is still much to be studied. However, official bodies have already released some information.

What is?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the term “coronavirus” refers to a large family of viruses, which can cause disease in humans and animals. In humans, infection with this type of virus can result in respiratory illnesses, ranging from the normal cold to more severe conditions.


How the virus transmitted?

According to the World Health Organization, coronavirus transmission usually occurs through the air or through contact with contaminated secretions, such as:

  •  Droplets of saliva;
  •  Cough;
  • Sneeze;
  • Catarrh;
  • Close personal contact;
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces or objects, followed by contact with nose, eyes and mouth.


What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • The new coronavirus can also cause infections in the lower respiratory tract, such as pneumonia.

Some demographic groups are more susceptible to the worsening of the disease and have higher mortality rates, configuring the so-called risk group.


Who is in the risk group?

The OMS declares that they are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, but reveals that people of advanced age and / or with pre-existing medical conditions appear to suffer from more serious conditions of the disease. The pre-existing medical conditions are:

High pressure;

Heart problems;

Respiratory and lung problems;



Coronavirus and autism

As we saw above, children and people with autism are NOT in the risk group.

Even so, we understand that this new scenario can generate concern among parents of children with ASD, who are questioning coronavirus and autism.

How does COVID-19 affect children with ASD?

As neurologist Dr. Marcelo Masruha reminds us, autism alone does not cause any type of immunodeficiency.

In the case of contagion of autistic children by the coronavirus, the doctor increase: “they are going to have an infection like a cold. Many will even be asymptomatic, but they can still transmit the virus”.


How can routine changes affect autistic children?

In many places, the population is being instructed to stay at home as a means of preventing coronavirus. This routine change can cause a lot of stress for anyone. In addition, for families with autistic children, there are still other concerns.

“Children with autism like and need routine, it is an element that calms them down, organizes them. So quarantine can create many problems, “says Masruha. “They can be more irritable, aggressive, and impatient. This is an element that can hinder children with autism more than others”.


How can we prevent ourselves?

Dr. Marcelo says that the prevention methods against the coronavirus are the same for typical and atypical children, as well as their families. Among the measures disclosed by health agencies are:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • In the absence of water and soap, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoid touching the eyes, mouth and nose with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with sick people;
  • Stay home when you are sick;
  • Avoid crowding;
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces;
  • Avoid contact with people in the risk group.

We know that in the case of autistic children, the act of washing hands as recommended by health agencies can see as a challenge. In this video, psychologist Michelli Freitas explains more about how to teach hand hygiene to children with ASD.


Are there any specific recommendations on coronavirus and autism?

Dr. Marcelo stresses once again that in the case of prevention and symptoms of the coronavirus, there is no difference between typical and autistic children.

However, the neurologist reminds us: “These children end up doing various therapies. Moreover, a question that remains is to interrupt therapy or not? As a sacrifice is being asked for at least two weeks to reduce the epidemiological curve, I believe that at this early stage, if possible, interrupting therapies for at least two weeks is prudent in common sense. Then, the trend is for therapies to resume as soon as possible.

Another option right now is online psychotherapy. Find out more about this practice in our special article on the subject!


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