The study covered in this summary was published on Medrxiv.org as a preprint and has not yet been peer reviewed.
Mask wearing was significantly challenging for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and resulted in difficulty in referring to the emotions of others while wearing masks
This study provides insight to the impact of public health policies on social communication skills of children with ASD and their ability to adapt to a new environment
Why This Matters
This study presents novel evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on psychological states specific to children with ASD
Public health policies, such as mask wearing, have the potential to negatively affect the social communication skills of children with ASD, particularly those with restricted and repetitive behaviors (RRB)
This study used the CoRonavIruS Health Impact Survey (CRISIS) — Adapted for Autism and Related Neurodevelopmental conditions (AFAR) to evaluate sleep, exercise, and RRB problems in 102 participants with a clinical diagnosis of ASD
75 (73.5%) participants were male
Mean age of participants was 11.6 years
One set of questions gathered information regarding behavior 3 months prior to the pandemic, and the second focused on behavior during the past 2 weeks of the study period, during the pandemic
The Spearmans’ rank correlation was used to analyze between the lower- and higher-order RRB symptoms and the impact of mask wearing on the CRISIS-AFAR-Japan
No changes were observed in participants’ sleep behavior
Participants spent significantly less time outdoors during the pandemic compared to before (P = .005)
Mask wearing was associated with an uncomfortable sensation and difficulty in referring to others’ emotions while wearing masks for participants with lower-order RRB before the pandemic (P = .0004 and P = .0002, respectively)
The CRISIS-AFAR does not measure ASD severity or establish the diagnosis
It also doesn’t cover social communication deficits; therefore, it can’t be determined whether or not the findings are specific to RRB or ASD severity itself
This study was partially supported by the JSPS KAKENHI and supported by the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED)
The authors declared no competing interests
Caregivers were asked to select the answers from options, so the sensitivity of the questionnaires to detect the change was limited
This is a summary of a preprint research study, "The impact of mask-wearing influenced by restricted interest and repetitive behavior on the mental distress of individuals with autism spectrum disorder during the COVID-19 pandemic: a multisite survey," written by Hiroki Tamon from the National Center for Child Health and Development in Tokyo, Japan, and colleagues on ResearchSquare.com provided to you by Medscape. This study has not yet been peer reviewed. The full text of the study can be found on ResearchSquare.com.
Lead Image: Andrei Fedco/Dreamstime
Cite this: Mask Wearing May Cause Mental Distress in People With Autism - Medscape - May 09, 2022.