“A whole generation has been affected”: the child psychiatrist Igor Martzenkowski told how COVID-19 affected children with ASD and other mental disorders

The pandemic paralyzed children’s psychiatric wards and outpatient services, as well as rehabilitation centers that helped children with mental disorders, among other things. It set back the progress that considerable effort had been made in recent years.

Ph.D., head of the Department of Mental Disorders of Children and Adolescents at the Research Institute of Psychiatry of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine Igor Martsenkovsky gave to the ‘Gordon’ website in an interview. According to him, if the child was three years of age before the rehabilitation system was stopped, then today he is almost five. And this is the preschool age.

“For the second year, many autistic children are not provided with specialized medical care and rehabilitation. This is a disaster. Thanks to the activity of parents’ organizations in Ukraine about 10 years ago they began to pay attention to early diagnosis, early intervention in case of such disorders. Quite a lot was done. And now we see neglected children again, like 10-15 years ago. A whole generation has been affected,” said Igor Martzenkovsky.

He added: the WHO voiced the position of psychiatrists around the world on the impact of the pandemic. They unanimously stated that children with special needs and mental disorders have experienced and continue to experience severe psychological trauma. And every country must understand that the consequences of such traumatization will have to be dealt with long after the pandemic is over.

The child psychiatrist also raised the topic of distance learning. He emphasized that it is possible to argue for a long time about its harms and benefits, but real clinical practice shows that children with special needs or with mental disorders have been negatively affected by such learning. It has only exacerbated their condition.

Read more of Igor Martzenkovsky’s interview about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on adolescents, including autistic children, here: