Coping During COVID-19: Strategies to Reinforce Executive Functioning Skills During Times of Change


By Crystal Hayes, Interim Program Director, College Internship Program 

As the world enters a perpetual state of “new normal” due to the COVID-19 pandemic, previously developed routines and coping skills may not be readily accessible – or may not work at all.

Along with the closing of many schools and workplaces, drastically changing societal norms, community restrictions, and frequent fluctuation in how everyday tasks are to be conducted have made the world an overwhelming place to navigate, especially for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Individuals with ASD often find change difficult to manage, particularly when the parameters are not clearly defined.


Studies indicate that nearly 40% of young people with ASD are estimated to have at least one anxiety disorder (van Steensel, Bögels & Perrin, 2011). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020), increased levels of anxiety and stress as a result of the pandemic can lead to fear, changes in self-care patterns, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, and worsening mental health conditions.


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About the Author: Crystal Hayes

Crystal Hayes, M.Ed. is the recipient of our 2015-2016 Staff of the Year Award. Her education includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Instrumental Music Education from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington, and a Master of Education degree in Special Education from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Crystal’s passion is student success, and she believes each step toward goal attainment is worth celebrating!