Method Each of the researchers had received IRB approval and funding to conduct the intervention in person with families. Working with community partners to support the development and/or implementation of interventions for underserved populations of children with ASD in the time of COVID-19 was essential to the continuation of each intervention study. Thus, the research question guiding this paper is, How have autism intervention researchers adapted their pre-COVID community partner engagement strategies to maintain or initiate partnerships with community organizations? Each of the researchers offers a case summary of their experience from pre-COVID to present day in the form of a narrative. We then drew themes from the narratives.
Results The researcher narratives illustrated multiple challenges that emerged during the pandemic such as increased provider burnout, technological challenges, and complexities in developing trust with community partners without in-person meetings. The researchers outlined promising strategies to facilitate intervention studies through challenging times, including utilizing flexible approaches to community engagement, applying researcher positionality, and having a trusted community member as part of the research team champion the project.
Conclusions and Implications COVID-19 presented a host of barriers to researchers battling inequities and building solutions for underserved children with ASD and their families. This study presented the challenges promising strategies, and suggestions for suture work learned by three autism intervention researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers center their discussion on community partnerships they developed prior to and maintained during COVID-19. In so doing the researchers were able to develop innovative methods to support Navajo, Chinese, and Latinx families raising children with ASD. Implications for researchers facing similar challenges and beyond the pandemic are explored.