Iberoamerican Journal of Medicine
https://iberoamjmed.com/article/doi/10.53986/ibjm.2022.0007
Iberoamerican Journal of Medicine
Original article

The impact of COVID-19 Lockdown on Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and their families in Tripoli, Libya

El impacto del bloqueo de COVID-19 en los niños con trastorno del espectro autista y sus familias en Trípoli, Libia

Adel Zeglam, Marwa F Al-Ogab

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Abstract

Introduction: During COVID-19 pandemic, when social distancing becomes compulsory for all, a nation-wide school closure was implemented. The aim of this paper is to assess the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on children with ASD and their families in Tripoli, Libya.
Materials and Methods: We conducted face-to-face interviews with parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) during the period of the outbreak between June to December 2020. The Modified Check list of Autism in Toddlers (M-CHAT) was used to evaluate patients.
Results: 250 children diagnosed of ASD were included. The prevalence of aggressive behaviour had increased by 47% that of loss of communication is 33%, that of poor interaction is 52% and that of anxiety among families is 27%, although rates were lower among girls. .60% of Young children aged between 5 to 10 years exhibit increased stereotyped behaviour, attachment to certain TV programs and other electronic devices (such as tablet, smartphone) more often and for longer periods of the day, temper tantrums, and crying and screaming for no obvious reasons as well as difficulty sleeping alone and frequent awakenings. 10% of children complained of psychosomatic symptoms, such as tummy pains, and diarrhoea. 16% of Adolescents had been found to have significantly higher rates of aggressive and antisocial behaviour when trying to switch them from one activity to another.
Conclusions: Children with existing behavioural problems and those with ASD in particular had faced additional social and educational challenges during their special education years and had experienced the most negative consequences of living in a stressful situation like home lockdown, and are therefore had been particularly hard hit. COVD-19 pandemic was a neglected medical cause of deteriorating child behaviour, and the acute and chronic effects of this pandemic on these children’s health and education are among the greatest child harms of the 21st century.

Keywords

Autism; COVID-19; Behaviour; Lockdown; Libya

Resumen

Introducción: Durante la pandemia de COVID-19, cuando el distanciamiento social se vuelve obligatorio para todos, se implementó un cierre escolar a nivel nacional. El objetivo de este documento es evaluar el impacto del encierro de COVID-19 en los niños con TEA y sus familias en Trípoli, Libia.
Materiales y métodos: Realizamos entrevistas cara a cara con padres de niños con trastorno del espectro autista (TEA) durante el período del brote entre junio y diciembre de 2020. Se utilizó la lista de verificación modificada de autismo en niños pequeños (M-CHAT) para evaluar a los pacientes.
Resultados: Se incluyeron 250 niños diagnosticados de TEA. La prevalencia de la conducta agresiva había aumentado en un 47%, la de pérdida de comunicación es de 33%, la de mala interacción es de 52% y la de ansiedad entre las familias es de 27%, aunque las tasas fueron menores entre las niñas. .60% de los niños pequeños de entre 5 y 10 años exhiben un mayor comportamiento estereotipado, apego a ciertos programas de televisión y otros dispositivos electrónicos (como tabletas, teléfonos inteligentes) con más frecuencia y durante períodos más prolongados del día, rabietas y llantos y gritos sin razones obvias, así como dificultad para dormir solo y despertares frecuentes. El 10% de los niños se quejó de síntomas psicosomáticos, como dolor de estómago y diarrea. Se ha descubierto que el 16% de los adolescentes tienen tasas significativamente más altas de comportamiento agresivo y antisocial cuando intentan cambiarlos de una actividad a otra.
Conclusiones: Los niños con problemas de conducta existentes y aquellos con TEA en particular se habían enfrentado a desafíos sociales y educativos adicionales durante sus años de educación especial y habían experimentado las consecuencias más negativas de vivir en una situación estresante como el encierro del hogar y, por lo tanto, se habían visto particularmente afectados. La pandemia COVD-19 fue una causa médica desatendida del deterioro del comportamiento infantil, y los efectos agudos y crónicos de esta pandemia en la salud y educación de estos niños se encuentran entre los mayores daños infantiles del siglo XXI.

Palabras clave

Autismo; COVID-19; Conducta; Aislamiento; Libia

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Submitted date:
10/25/2021

Reviewed date:
12/03/2021

Accepted date:
12/30/2021

Publication date:
01/02/2022

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