The pandemic is affecting everyone, but the stresses it causes are particularly rough for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. Providing effective education to such children and getting services to those who need help in their homes is typically complex, but those issues are even more difficult in the face of COVID-19. Child psychiatrist John N. Constantino, MD, is the Blanche F. Ittleson Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, director of the William Greenleaf Eliot Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and co-director of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. As debates continue over whether children should be in classrooms or involved in online learning from home, Constantino says little has been said about kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities, many of whom have a great deal of trouble trying to learn online.
Meanwhile, information available online and over social media may be adding to the stress and anxiety many people are experiencing during the pandemic. Another team of psychiatry researchers is studying that issue. Led by Patricia A. Cavazos-Rehg, PhD, a professor of psychiatry, the team is analyzing the effects of social media on anxiety and depression, and working to use messages delivered over social media to lower stress and anxiety levels.