Repercussions of the COVID-19 lockdown for autistic people in Mexico: The caregivers’ perspective

Georgina Pérez Liz, Andy Torres, Ana C. Ramírez, Cecilia Montiel Nava, Grupo REAL



Introduction. The COVID-19 lockdown has posed new challenges for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), including service suspension and reductions in support.

Objective. To explore the perspectives of caregivers on the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on people with ASD in Mexico.

Method. 126 caregivers from Mexico completed a survey on the impact of lockdown on people with ASD.

Results. Suspension of at least one service was reported for 38.9% of subjects, with no significant association being found between symptom worsening and service administration modality.

Discussion and conclusion. Service suspension for people with ASD in Mexico has been a side effect of the pandemic, negatively impacting their behavior. Results indicate that certain services could be remotely maintained and provided to individuals with ASD in underserved areas.


COVID-19; autism; pandemic; disability; support services; Mexico

Full Text:



American Psychiatric Association [APA]. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. Text Revision. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

American Psychiatric Association [APA]. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th Ed.). doi: 10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596

Asbury, K., Fox, L., Deniz, E., Code, A., & Toseeb, U. (2021). How is COVID-19 affecting the mental health of children with special educational needs and disabilities and their families? Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51(5), 1772-1780. doi: 10.1007/s10803-020-04577-2

Cetron, M., & Landwirth, J. (2005). Public health and ethical considerations in planning for quarantine. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, 78(5), 329-334.

Cohen, J. H., & Mata-Sánchez, N. D. (2021). Challenges, inequalities and COVID-19: Examples from indigenous Oaxaca, Mexico. Global Public Health, 16(4), 639-649. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2020.1868548

Colizzi, M., Sironi, E., Antonini, F., Ciceri, M. L., Bovo, C., & Zoccante, L. (2020). Psychosocial and behavioral impact of COVID-19 in autism spectrum disorder: An online parent survey. Brain Sciences, 10(6), 341. doi: 10.3390/brainsci10060341

de Argaez, E. (2020). Internet World Stats. Retrieved from (Access date: April 21 2021)

Dhiman, S., Sahu, P. K., Reed, W. R., Ganesh, G. S., Goyal, R. K., & Jain, S. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 outbreak on mental health and perceived strain among caregivers tending children with special needs. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 107, 103790. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103790

Diaz, A., Baweja, R., Bonatakis, J. K., & Baweja, R. (2021). Global health disparities in vulnerable populations of psychiatric patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. World Journal of Psychiatry, 11(4), 94-108. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v11.i4.94

Eshraghi, A. A., Li, C., Alessandri, M., Messinger, D. S., Eshraghi, R. S., Mittal, R., & Armstrong, F. D. (2020). COVID-19: Overcoming the challenges faced by individuals with autism and their families. The Lancet Psychiatry, 7(6), 481-483. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(20)30197-8

Fombonne, E., Marcin, C., Manero, A. C., Bruno, R., Diaz, C., Villalobos, M., … Nealy, B. (2016). Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in Guanajuato, Mexico: The Leon survey. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46(5), 1669-1685. doi: 10.1007/s10803-016-2696-6

Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía [INEGI]. (2020). Censo de población y vivienda. Retrieved from (Access date: April 21, 2021)

Jeste, S., Hyde, C., Distefano, C., Halladay, A., Ray, S., Porath, M., … Thurm, A. (2020). Changes in access to educational and healthcare services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities during COVID-19 restrictions. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 64(11), 825-833.doi: 10.1111/jir.12776

Lee, J. F., Schieltz, K. M., Suess, A. N., Wacker, D. P., Romani, P. W., Lindgren, S. D., … Dalmau, Y. C. P. (2015). Guidelines for developing telehealth services and troubleshooting problems with telehealth technology when coaching parents to conduct functional analyses and functional communication training in their homes. Behavior Analysis in Practice, 8(2), 190-200. doi: 10.1007/s40617-014-0031-2

Melki, I. S., Beydoun, H. A., Khogali, M., Tamim, H., Yunis, K. A., & National Collaborative Perinatal Neonatal Network (NCPNN). (2004). Household crowding index: a correlate of socioeconomic status and inter-pregnancy spacing in an urban setting. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 58(6), 476-480. doi: 10.1136/jech.2003.012690

Montiel-Nava, C., Cukier, S., Garrido, G., Valdez, D., Paula, C. S., García, R., … Rattazzi, A. (2020). Service encounters across the lifespan in individuals with autism spectrum disorders: Results from a multisite study in Latin America. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 79, 101670. doi: 10.1016/j.rasd.2020.101670

Neece, C., McIntyre, L. L., & Fenning, R. (2020). Examining the impact of COVID-19 in ethnically diverse families with young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 64(10), 739-749. doi: 10.1111/jir.12769

Panda, P. K., Gupta, J., Chowdhury, S. R., Kumar, R., Meena, A. K., Madaan, P., … Gulati, S. (2021). Psychological and behavioral impact of lockdown and quarantine measures for COVID-19 pandemic on children, adolescents and caregivers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, 67(1), fmaa122. doi: 10.1093/tropej/fmaa122

Pellicano, E., & Stears, M. (2020). The hidden inequalities of COVID-19. Autism, 24(6), 1309-1310. doi: 10.1177/1362361320927590

Secretaría de Salud. (2020). Consejo de salubridad general declara emergencia sanitaria nacional a epidemia por coronavirus COVID-19. Retrieved from (Access date: April 24)

Tekola, B., Girma, F., Kinfe, M., Abdurahman, R., Tesfaye, M., Yenus, Z., … Hoekstra, R. A. (2020). Adapting and pre-testing the World Health Organization’s Caregiver Skills Training programme for autism and other developmental disorders in a very low-resource setting: Findings from Ethiopia. Autism, 24(1), 51-63. doi: 10.1177/1362361319848532

Torres, A., Lecusay, D., Valdez, D., Rosoli, A., Garrido, G., Cukier, S., … Montiel-Nava, C. (2021). Use of allied-health services and medication amongst adults with ASD in Latin-America. Autism Research, 14(10), 2200-2211. doi: 10.1002/aur.2583

Valdez, D., Montiel-Nava, C., Paula, C. S., Rattazzi, A., Rosoli, A., Barrios, N., … Garrido, G. (2021, in-press). Facing COVID-19: Situation of people with autism and their families in Latin America. Revista Siglo Cero, 52, 119-140. doi: 10.14201/scero202152e119140

White, L. C., Law, J. K., Daniels, A. M., Toroney, J., Vernoia, B., Xiao, S., … Chung, W. K. (2021). Brief report: Impact of COVID-19 on individuals with ASD and their caregivers: A perspective from the SPARK cohort. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51(10),3766-3773. doi: 10.1007/s10803-020-04816-6

World Health Organization [WHO]. (2017). Mental health atlas 2017. Retrieved from