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Reports Part of series: Education & Covid-19: BERA Small Grants Fund research reports

Exploring the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health & wellbeing of learners with autism

Documenting an explorative qualitative study involving 20 learners with autism aged 14–19 based in the West Midlands region of England, this report considers the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on their health and wellbeing, and suggests effective interventions to safeguard them during future crises. 

Report summary

This report explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health and wellbeing of children and young learners with autism in two specialist schools in the West Midlands region of England. It reveals experiences of social isolation, anxiety, grief and increased tensions at home, as well as feelings of uncertainty and a lack of safety arising due to changing and confusing guidance about Covid-19. It concludes that autistic learners and their parents need:

  • service continuity and greater non-academic support from schools when they are closed
  • more guidance and support on how to manage autism at home, and to prevent stress, anxiety and other mental health problems
  • provision of targeted loss and grief counselling services
  • an independent national agency tasked with providing clear guidelines for learning professionals and parents in the event of another pandemic or similar emergency.


Profile picture of Abide Zenenga
Abide Zenenga, Dr

Headteacher at Riverside Education

Dr Abide Zenenga is an experienced educationalist with over 25 years of working with young people with autism (14-19). He is a father to a fourteen-year-old boy with autism himself and has interest in advancing the educational opportunities of...

Profile picture of Felicia Towobola
Felicia Towobola, Ms

Education Mental Health Practitioner at NHS

Felicia is an Education Mental Health Practitioner (EMHP) with the National Health Service. She has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Birmingham City University and is a member of the British Psychological Society. She also has over 7 years...

Profile picture of Mathew Nyashanu
Mathew Nyashanu, Dr

Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University

Mathew Nyashanu is a senior lecturer in public health at Nottingham Trent University.