Elissa Green Kaustinen, the Thompson Policy Institute on Disability’s Director of Families and Schools Together at CHOC Children’s (FAST@CHOC), was an expert presenter this week during a CHOC Children’s webinar titled “When Complexity Meets Uncertainty: Supporting Children on the Autism Spectrum during COVID-19.” Other experts on the panel included Dr. Tom Megerian, the Medical Director for Thompson Autism Center, and Dr. Megan Swinford, Social Worker for the Thompson Autism Center.

The CHOC webinar addressed the prevalence of autism in Orange County and discussed the challenges faced by children with autism and their families as a result of school closures due to COVID-19. The presenters provided information and resources to aide families. The webinar specifically covered strategies for mitigating caregiver burnout during this particularly difficult time and ways to ease the back-to-school transition as school sites move to in-person and hybrid models with new safety protocols.

The webinar was attended by representatives from the offices of US Senator Dianne Feinstein, US Representative Harley Rouda, Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner, and California state Senator Tom Umberg, Senator Ling Ling Chang, Assembly Member Sharon Quirk-Silva, Assembly Member Stephen Choi, and Assembly Member Patty Petrie Norris. In addition to legislative officials, representatives attended from school districts and universities throughout Orange County.

For those who missed the presentation, the slideshow and recording of the webinar are available online.

CHOC webinar introductory slide

During and after the webinar, the presenters shared the following resources for families of children with autism:

Community Resources

  • 211 Orange County
  •  County of Orange COVID-19 hotline: 833-426-6411
    • Medical questions related to COVID-19
    • Anxiety, worry, or fear connected to trained clinical navigators at OC Links program
    • NAMI Warm Line for MH concerns
    • Eligibility for public assistance benefits
  •  844-GET=CHOC: Speak to a CHOC Nurse 24/7 to answer your questions about coronavirus and your child
  • Help Me Grow (1-866-GROW-025): Connects children and their families to developmental services to enhance the development, behavior and learning of children birth through eight years
  • Regional Center Orange County

Financial Support

Parent Support Groups