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The impact of COVID-19 pandemic social restrictions on individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their caregivers in the Stateof Qatar: A cross-sectional study

journal contribution
submitted on 2023-10-23, 05:47 and posted on 2023-10-23, 07:09 authored by Yasser Saeed Khan, Abdul Waheed Khan, Mohamed El Tahir, Samer Hammoudeh, Mahmoud Al Shamlawi, Majid Alabdulla


Previous research has established an association between changes to the daily routine of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and increase in maladaptive behaviours. The relationship between maladaptive behaviours in autistic individuals and increase in care burden among their caregivers is also well established. However, no study has yet examined these associations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The main aim of this study was to explore the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on autistic individuals and their caregivers.


A questionnaire-based cross-sectional study conducted with the caregivers of 58 autistic individuals across the mental health services at Hamad Medical Corporation, Doha, Qatar. The extent of care burden was measured using the Care Burden Interview, whereas changes in behaviour in autistic individuals was assessed using the Revised Overt Aggression Scale.


A total of 58 caregivers participated in the study. Out of these, 24 (41 %) reported a clinically significant increase in their care burden. Among caregivers reporting an increase in care burden, two-third were caring for individuals whose behaviour either remained unchanged or improved during social restrictions. Nine autistic people (15.5 %) were reported to have no aggression prior to the implementation of COVID-19 social restrictions compared to 13 (22.4%) individuals during COVID-19 social restrictions. Minimal, mild and moderate aggression were reported in 27 (46.6 %), 21 (36.2 %), and 1 (1.7 %) patients respectively, before COVID-19 social restrictions compared to 29 (50 %), 15 (25.9), and 1 (1.7 %) during COVID-19 restrictions. Severe aggression was not reported in any patient either before or during COVID-19 social restrictions.


This study showed reduced levels of aggression in autistic individuals but an increase in care burden among their caregivers during the COVID-19 social restrictions highlighting the need of supporting patients and caregivers alike.

Other Information

Published in: Research in Developmental Disabilities
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2021

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Medical Corporation

Geographic coverage