A busy young man lost his work and was bored and unhappy Craig lives with intellectual disabilities. He is 22 […]

Newspaper headlines cutout on a surface with different headlines related to COVID.

A busy young man lost his work and was bored and unhappy

Craig lives with intellectual disabilities. He is 22 and has finished school in the St. Paul Public Schools. He makes his home with his parents in St. Paul. His older brothers and sisters are working or in college. His parents both work outside of the home. 

“I like to work,” Craig said. He has had jobs since his early high school years, delivering fliers, walking dogs, and bussing and washing dishes in a restaurant. Craig lost all but his dog walking job when the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

Craig’s parents were very careful to keep him isolated during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was very hard for all of them. Craig was bored and unhappy, with very little to do. It was difficult for him to see family members being active and out in the community. 

But like many people with his type of disability, Craig is immunocompromised. He could not risk getting sick. 

One worry Craig’s family had was whether he would remember to wear a face mask while out in public. They also worried about people being in close contact with him. 

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities were left out of early rounds of COVID-19 vaccination in Minnesota. That promoted a petition in early 2021 to Gov. Tim Walz. This effort was led by the Down Syndrome Association of Minnesota (DSAMN). 

Craig was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early 2021, before he was eligible for a vaccine. The state’s priorities at that time were to first vaccinate senior citizens, health care workers, educators and long-term care facility residents. 

“I didn’t like being sick,” Craig said. His mother became sick before he did and likely exposed him to the virus despite taking precautions. 

Craig was sick for more than two weeks. The worst part of COVID-19 was a headache and “coughing a lot. I don’t like coughing.” 

He’s found another restaurant job and is back at work. He continues to mask up and observe social distancing. “I am very careful,” he said. 

From Access Press: The National Library of Medicine states that “People with intellectual disability are especially vulnerable to the physical, mental and social effects of the pandemic. Cognitive impairments can limit understanding of information to protect them relying on carers to be vigilant on their behalf during quarantine. Restrictions on usual activities are likely to induce mental stress especially among those who are autistic leading to an escalation in challenging behaviors…“ 

Several interesting articles on COVID-19 and intellectual; and developmental disabilities can be found at COVID-19 and people with intellectual disability: impacts of a pandemic 

Some studies indicated that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are three times more likely to die of COVID-19, compared with patients without such disabilities. 

The Center for Community Solutions released a study in mid-2023 indicating that people with intellectual and development disabilities struggled greatly during the pandemic. The center is a nonpartisan think tank based in Ohio. 

Read more at The ongoing impact of COVID-19 on individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, and providers

  • Work with your care provider to stay healthy. Protect yourself. Vaccines are your best protection against being sick.
  • Wash your hands! Hands that look can still have icky germs!

You are not alone. Minnesota Autism Resource Portal.