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Pandemic Canadian Autism Needs Assessment Result

About the survey

This survey was developed in partnership between Autism Speaks Canada, the McMaster Autism Research Team (MacART) and the Autism Alliance of Canada (formerly known as Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance) with the intention to gather information on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on autistic Canadians and their families.

1,066 people

From May 13 to 24, 2020
1,066 Canadians participated in the survey;
with 21% of respondents identifying as autistic.

Every province
and territory
was represented,

except for Nunavut.

Three themes were continually stressed by respondents through open-ended questions



Concerns of unemployment for both advocates and caregivers



Lack of affordable housing options for the diversity of needs


Challenges due to government support delivery models and high cost of private support services

Most respondents are not coping well

Boy with striped shirt
Over 75% reported feeling stressed, worried, and anxious. Almost 80% of advocates rated 'mental health concerns' as somewhat, very or extremely challenging. Over 50% said maintaining personal and children’s routines, as well as keeping a healthy lifestyle (including sleep and exercise), were the most difficult coping strategies to implement.

Greatest impact on Advocates


Mental Health

Concerns of unemployment for both advocates and caregivers



Problems with sleeping



Social relationships with family and friends

Greatest impact on Children



Disruptions in education and learning



Challenging behaviours



Social relationships with family and friends

Diverse group of Canadians

Respondents identified gaps in service needs.

The following supports were either extremely challenging to access, not accessible, or would have been useful:

  • Financial compensation to take time off work
  • Technology to work from home
  • Flexibility using government funding/subsidies
  • Access to recreation programs
  • Access to health professionals
  • ASD specific hotline

Explore the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada in our interactive timeline report: