All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Maria Hopkins

Advisory Committee Members

James Ernest

Kristi C Guest

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


The COVID-19 pandemic is a global public health crisis that has affected everyone worldwide and drastically changed the social landscape since the first reported case on December 31, 2019 (WHO, 2020). Part of this social landscape includes children’s ability to play with their peers. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by social impairments, have been observed to initiate and reciprocate peer interactions much less frequently than their peers, including language-matched children with other developmental disabilities, without therapeutic intervention (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Frankel et al., 2011). Therefore, children with ASD could be at an increased risk of missing out on important social interactions during these unprecedented times. The current study set out to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted children’s play opportunities, technology use, and quality of life. An anonymous online survey was distributed to parents of children ages 5-12 years, and asked parents to report on their perceptions on play safety during the pandemic, their child’s play opportunities before and after the pandemic, their child’s technology use before and after the onset of the pandemic, and their child’s quality of life within the past month. Findings show that parents are concerned about the safety of in-person peer interactions for their children during the iii pandemic, a decrease in play opportunities for children overall since the onset of the pandemic, an increase in technology use since the onset of the pandemic, and significant differences in quality of life between children with ASD and their peers without ASD. Future research into how the availability of vaccines against COVID-19 for this age group impacts parents’ perceptions of play safety and affects children’s play opportunities and quality of life moving forward is warranted.



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