Background: The COVID-19 pandemic introduced challenges to families with young children with developmental delays. Beyond the widespread concerns surrounding illness, loss of employment and social isolation, caregivers are responsible for overseeing their children's educational and therapeutic programmes at home often without the much needed support of professionals.
Method: The present study sought to examine the impact of COVID-19 in 77 ethnically, linguistically and socioeconomically diverse families with young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) in California and Oregon, who were participating in larger intervention studies. Parents responded to five interview questions about the impact of the pandemic, services for their child, silver linings or positive aspects, coping and their concerns about the long-term impact of the pandemic.
Results: Parents reported that their biggest challenge was being at home caring for their children with the loss of many essential services. Parents reported some positive aspects of the pandemic, especially being together as a family. Although there were positive aspects of the situation, many parents expressed concern about long-term impacts of the pandemic on their children's development, given the loss of services, education and social engagement opportunities.
Conclusion: Results suggest that parents of young children with IDD report significant challenges at home during the pandemic. Professional support, especially during the reopening phases, will be critical to support family well-being and child developmental outcomes.