The Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine and the Autism Community
Many of us are deeply concerned about the war and continuing humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. This situation can be especially challenging for Ukrainian families with disabilities including autism. As of March 29, 2022, there are an estimated 6.5 million people thought to be displaced inside the country and over 3.8 million refugees who have left Ukraine for neighboring countries. How are families with autism managing internal displacement within Ukraine, whether sheltering at home or in bomb shelters, or adjusting to life as refugees in other countries? How can we improve the fate of those in institutional care settings and group homes?
Many autistic individuals face increased difficulty coping with the chaos caused by war, which can include sensory overload from shelling and explosions, stress caused by unfamiliar, loud, crowded environments, disruption in routine and daily environment, fears for their safety and for the lives of family members (particularly those who stay behind to defend Ukraine), lack of appropriate support services, and overall terrifying conditions for themselves and their families. Many individuals on the spectrum are unable to access emergency communications and unable to benefit from humanitarian aid aimed at the general population. As a result, these individuals may face great difficulty with evacuating the area, may be delayed in fleeing, or may be left behind entirely.
Photographer: Carolina Cabral/Bloomberg via Getty Images
We share the following links and resources to increase awareness of the plight of families and individuals with autism during this crisis and provide more information about how to offer assistance. This page will be updated periodically as the situation evolves and new resources are published.