During the past months, the consortium undertook comprehensive research activities – both desk and field research – and explored the effects of COVID-19 pandemic for youth living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other mental or development disorders. For the field research, all partners interviewed nearly 20 professionals working with these youth (as educators, psychologists, special needs teachers etc.) and they gave a precious contribution to the research by reporting their direct experience. As for published studies, they are still few on this matter, and mostly are focused on children or on youth in general. Therefore, the results of StoryLiving research are mostly based on collected direct experience of the professionals, or indirect experience reported by other professionals and youth’s families. What has emerged from the research generally in the seven countries (Greece, Germany, U.K., Italy, Spain, The Republic of North Macedonia, Belgium) is that youth living with ASD and other mental or development disorders, during the pandemic, have experienced:
- Increase in the level of stress and anxiety;
- Anxiety-depressive symptoms;
- Worsening of mental wellbeing;
- PTSD-type behaviours (aggression, hypersensitivity, behavioural problems, and disturbances in sleep and appetite);
- Difficulties in continuing their normal education.
In particular, for youth living with ASD, the social isolation has relieved them from the burden of social interaction and stimuli. On the other hand, the loss of the daily routine was detrimental. Moreover, the loss of access to cures and treatment represented a step back in their progresses. Parents in some cases have lost their support from institutions and they became the only point of reference for their children.
StoryLiving proposes the use of digital storytelling methodology as a way to communicate, express, process and overcome the difficulties that youth have experienced and still are experiencing in the pandemic.
All this will be further analysed in the Training program on storytelling methodology that will be available on this website and freely accessible.
Continue to follow the updates on StoryLiving project here!