Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Behavioral Health of People With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Jessica Solomon Sanders, Rajapillai L.I. Pillai, Rachel Sturley, Stefan Sillau, Miya R. Asato, Bhooma R. Aravamuthan, Karen Bonuck, Mackenzie C. Cervenka, Nancy Hammond, Joanne F. Siegel, Vincent Siasoco, Benjamin A. Margolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The authors examined how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the behavioral health of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). METHODS: A modified version of the Coronavirus Health Impact Survey-Adapted for Autism and Related Neurodevelopmental Conditions was sent to the authors' clinical networks and IDD-affiliated organizations from March to June 2021. RESULTS: In total, 437 people with IDD or their caregivers responded to the survey. Diagnoses included intellectual disability (51%) and autism spectrum disorder (48%). More than half (52%) of respondents reported worsened mental health. Losing access to services correlated with declining mental health. Interventions suggested to improve behavioral health included more time with friends and family (68%), more time outdoors (61%), and access to community activities (59%). CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 affected the behavioral health of individuals with IDD. Survey results highlight the opportunity to leverage physical activity and pandemic-safe social supports as accessible means to mitigate gaps in services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1389-1392
Number of pages4
JournalPsychiatric services (Washington, D.C.)
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022


  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Community mental health services
  • Developmental disability
  • Intellectual disability


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