Families of Children with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Main Article Content

Monika Parchomiuk
Beata Szabała


The COVID-19 pandemic has created significant challenges and difficulties in all areas of people’s lives world-wide. Reports to date show that it has caused significant changes in the quality of everyday functioning of people with disabilities and their families, as well as in rehabilitation, treatment, and education. The article presents the results of authors’ own research involving parents of children with disabilities. The research goal was to learn about parents’ functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic, investigating problems, needs and coping strategies, taking into account the perspectives of parents, children, and entire families. A questionnaire designed by the authors was used. The material collected from 85 parents (mainly mothers) confirmed the occurrence of unfavorable changes and psychosocial experiences in all three analyzed areas related to the pandemic, especially the restrictions that accompany the pandemic. The analysis showed the importance of strategies based on the use of support, especially informal one.

Article Details



Ameis, S.H., Lai, M.CH., Mulsant, B.H., Szatmari, P. (2020). Coping, fostering resilience, and driving care innovation for autistic people and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Molecular Autism, 11(1), 61. DOI: 10.1186/s13229-020-00365-y.
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.
Battistin, T., Mercuriali, E., Zanardo, V., Gregori, D., Lorenzoni, G., Nasato, L., Reffo, M.E. (2021). Distance support and online intervention to blind and visually impaired children during the pandemic COVID-19. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 108. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103816
Bellomo, T.R., Prasad, S., Munzer, T., Laventhal, N. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine: An Interdisciplinary Approach, 13(3), 349-354.
Bentenuto, A., Mazzoni, N., Giannotti, M., Venuti, P., de Falco, S. (2021). Psychological impact of Covid-19 pandemic in Italian families of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 109, DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2020.103840.
Bittner, A. K., Yoshinaga P. D., Wykstra S. L., Li, T. (2020). Telerehabilitation for people with low vision. Cochrane Database of Systematic Review, 2(2), DOI: 10.1002/14651858 .CD011019.pub3.
Bıyık, K. S., Ozal, C., Tuncdemir M., Uneş, S., Delioğlu, K., Gunel, M.K. (2021). The functional health status of children with cerebral palsy during the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home period: a parental perspective. Turkish Journal of Pediatrics, 63(2), 223-236.
Cacioppo, M., Bouvier, S., Bailly, R., Houx, L., Lempereur, M., Mensah-Gourmel, J., Kandalaft, Ch., Varengue, R., Chatelin, A., Vagnoni, J., Vuillerot, C., Gautheron, V., Dinomais, M., Dheilly, E., Brochard, S., Pons, Ch., ECHO Group (2021). Emerging health challenges for children with physical disabilities and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic: the ECHO French survey. Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, 64(3). DOI: 10.1016/ j.rehab.2020.08.001.
Chen, S. Q., Chen, S. D., Li, X. K., Ren, J. (2020). Mental health of parents of special needs children in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(24). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17249519
Couper-Kenney, F., Riddell, S. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 on children with additional support needs and disabilities in Scotland. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 36(1), 20-34.
Daulay, N. (2021). Home education for children with autism spectrum disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic: Indonesian mothers experience. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 114, 103954?. DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2021.103954.
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, DOI: 10.1016/ j.ridd.2020.103790.
Doroszuk, J. (2020). Rodzina dziecka z niepełnosprawnością podczas pandemii Covid-19 – matczyne rekonstrukcje. Niepełnosprawność. Dyskursy pedagogiki specjalnej, 40, 9-21.
Faccioli, S., Lombardi, F., Bellini, P., Costi, S., Sassi, S., Pesci, M. C. (2021). How did Italian adolescents with disability and parents deal with the COVID-19 emergency? International Journal Environmental Research Public Health, 18(4). DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18041687.
Fontanesi, L., Marchetti, D., Mazza, C., Di Giandomenico, S., Roma, P. Verrocchio, M. C. (2020). The effect of the COVID‐19 lockdown on parents: a call to adopt urgent measures. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12(1), 79-81.
Glac, I. (2020). Formy wsparcia uczniów ze specjalnymi potrzebami eduakcyjnymi w czasie edukacji zdalnej. W: N. Pikuła, M. Grewiński, E. Zdebska, W. Glac (red.). Wyzwania dla polityki społecznej w kontekście pandemii koronawirusa (s. 151-173). Kraków: Wydawnictwo Scriptum.
Glac, W., Zdebska, E. (2020). Wsparcie osób z niepełnosprawnościami i ich rodzin w sytuacji pandemii. W: N. Pikuła, M. Grewiński, E. Zdebska, W. Glac W. (red.). Wyzwania dla polityki społecznej w kontekście pandemii koronawirusa (s. 109-124). Kraków: Wydawnictwo Scriptum.
Grumi, S., Provenzi, L., Gardani, A., Aramini, V., Dargenio, E., Naboni, C., Vacchini, V., Borgatti, R. (2021). Rehabilitation services lockdown during the COVID-19 emergency: the mental health response of caregivers of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Disabilty and Rehabilitation, 43(1), 27-32.
Henley-Averett, K. (2021). Remote learning, COVID-19 and children with disabilities. AERA Open, 7(1), 1-12.
Jeste, S., Hyde, C., Distefano, C., Halladay, A., Ray, S., Porath, M., Wilson, R.B., 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, 6(11), 825-833.
Kułaga, A. (2020). Zdalne nauczanie uczniów z niepełnosprawnością intelektualną w stopniu umiarkowanym. W: E. Domagała-Zyśk (red.). Zdalne uczenie się i nauczanie a specjalne potrzeby edukacyjne. Z doświadczeń pandemii COVID-19 (s. 83-93). Lublin: Episteme.
Lewandowska, P. (2020). Dostępność edukacji zdalnej dla uczniów z niepełnosprawnością słuchową w klasach IV-VIII. W: E. Domagała-Zyśk (red.). Zdalne uczenie się i nauczanie a specjalne potrzeby edukacyjne. Z doświadczeń pandemii COVID-19 (s. 11-41). Lublin: Episteme.
Macałka, E., Nieradka, F., Początek, G. (2020). COVID-19 a zaburzenia ze spektrum autyzmu. Wybrane strategie wspierania osób z ASD podczas pandemii. Annales Universitatis Paedagogicae Cracoviensis Studia Psychologica, 13, 69-89.
Mutluer, T., Doenyas, C., Genc, H.A. (2020). Behavioral implications of the COVID-19 process for autism spectrum disorder and individuals’ comprehension of and reactions to the pandemic conditions. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.561882
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.
Pachowicz, M. (2020). Edukacja i terapia osób z niepełnosprawnością w czasie pandemii COVID-19 na przykładzie Ośrodka Rewalidacyjno-Edukacyjno-Wychowawczego. Parezja. Czasopismo Forum Młodych Pedagogów przy Komitecie Nauk Pedagogicznych PAN, 2(14), 106-120.
Patel, K. (2020). Mental health implications of COVID-19 on children with disabilities. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 54. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajp.2020.102273.
Senjam, S. S., Manna, S., Vashist, P., Gupta, V., Varughese, S., Tandon, R. (2021). Tele-Rehabilitation for people with visual disabilities during COVID-19 pandemic: lesson learned. Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, 69(3), 722-728.
Toseeb, U., Asbury, K., Code, A., Fox, L., Deniz, E. (2020). Supporting families with children with special educational needs and disabilities during COVID-19. PsyArXiv Preprints, DOI: 10.31234/osf.io/tm69k.
Twardowski, A. (2020). Wirtualne wizyty domowe we wczesnym wspomaganiu rozwoju dzieci z niepełnosprawnościami. Niepełnosprawność. Dyskursy pedagogiki specjalnej, 43, 198-212.
Willner, P., Rose, J., Stenfert-Kroese, B., Murphy, G. H., Langdon, P. E., Clifford, C., Hutchings, H., Watkins, A., Hiles, S., Cooper, V. (2020). Effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health of carers of people with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 33, 1523-1533.
Yuan, Y. Q., Ding, J. N., Wang, N., Bi, M. J., Zhou, S. C., Wang, X. L., Zhang, S. H., Liu, Y., Roswal, G. (2021). Physical activity and sedentary behaviour among children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities during the COVID-19 lockdown in China. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. DOI: 10.1111/jir.12898.