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Our COVID-19 Response

People with masksDuring the COVID-19 pandemic, the Shriver Center has taken a leadership role, responding to the needs of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and their families, in the following ways:

INDEX Resource List

INDEX presents Information about COVID-19, along with its impacts, effects, and preventative measures in a valuable resource list.  This resource list offers information about COVID 19  in a variety of ways, including:

  • Providing documents in “plain language” to assist with readability and comprehension
  • Using illustrations and examples of behavior designed to prevent the spread of COVID 19
  • Highlighting the latest guidance from Massachusetts governmental officials as a verified, reliable, source of information

The resource page is regularly updated, and can be found at:   COVID-19 Resource Links

Newly Launched MCPAP for ASD/ID Program

NEW! Shriver Center Executive Director, Jean Frazier MD, has been named Co-Director of a program funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services to increase the knowledge and capacity of mobile crisis intervention (MCI) teams in working with youth and young adults with ASD/ID who are having a behavioral health crisis.
MCPAP for ASD-ID provides free, on-demand consultations, regardless of an individual’s insurance status. Initial consultations are with a licensed applied behavior analyst and follow-up consultation with physicians with ASD expertise, may take place when needed.
The program is an offshoot of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP) and run by the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership, a Beacon Health Options company.
For more information, please visit the full article on our News webpage: Newly Launched MCPAP for ASD/ID Program

The Autism Insurance Resource Center (AIRC)

The Autism Insurance Resource Center (AIRC) provides accurate and timely information regarding insurance coverage and service continuation for individuals in Massachusetts with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).   This information is particularly necessary as Massachusetts continues to grapple with the effects and impacts of COVID-19 in insurance coverage and maintaining un-interrupted services.

As a result, the AIRC team has assembled a list of resources that answer questions that parents, family members, caregivers, community organizations, and providers may have about insurance coverage for autism and COVID-19, including coverage for telehealth services.

These resources include:

  • Fact sheets
  • Downloadable PDF documents
  • Video “roundtables” or “Q & A” sessions that can be viewed online

NEW! AIRC was recently approved to establish an ECHO Hub in Ghana and disseminate COVID-19 Resources to the ASD/IDD community via telementoring.

This will provide critical information and support in the near-term and create infrastructure which will be utilized to expand access to ASD/IDD expertise and resources longer-term. The project will utilize materials developed in the United States and globally for people with disabilities and adapt them for people in Ghana, targeting distribution through professionals in autism resource centers that serve the 16 regions of Ghana, as well as 20 special education teachers previously trained by the Alexis Miranda Foundation (our partner) in collaboration with the Ghanian Ministry of Education.

Information can be found on the AIRC website at

Center for Developmental Disabilities Education and Research (CDDER)

The Center for Developmental Disabilities Education and Research (CDDER) assists service agencies dedicated to helping individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD) improve the health and safety of the individuals they serve. In pursuit of this mission, during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, CDDER continues to pursue new and innovative ways to prioritize the health and safety of those with IDD.

Examples of CDDER’s COVID-related work include:

  • Working with state and federal agencies, providers, and legal agencies to develop protocols and advisories, identify and protect individuals at risk, and recommend changes in programming and service environments
  • Adapting infectious disease guidance for people with IDD and staff, advising on unique scenarios within these services, and connection state agency and provider staff with the best evolving knowledge on public health strategies to address COVID-related challenges.
  • Launching virtual learning platforms and opportunities for students, disability service providers, and clinicians

For more information about CDDER, see:


Supporting Family Members of Youth with Mental Health Needs During COVID-19

The Sibling Support Program at the Shriver Center recognizes that COVID-19 is a stressful time for families of youth with behavioral or mental health challenges. Siblings might be subjected to physical and verbal aggression from their brothers/sisters with mental health needs. These siblings can be deeply affected and may be at risk for developing depression & anxiety. Caregivers can feel overwhelmed by these stressors.

Each month, the Sibling Support Program provides separate Zoom groups for caregivers and siblings. The Zoom sessions are facilitated by doctors in the psychiatry dept at UMass Medical School, parent mentors and a social worker.

For more information, see: Supporting Siblings During COVID-19


New! Creating Easy-To-Understand COVID-19 Information Worldwide

INDEX is creating a website with reliable COVID-19 information in simplified language so it is understandable by the world’s huge populations of people with cognitive disabilities, people with low literacy, non-native language speakers, and seniors. We are collecting the information from the websites of every country’s governments. Those websites are not usable by people with physical disabilities, such as the blind. Our website will be an example to them. Accessible, understandable COVID-19 information for all the world’s citizens will make the world healthier and safer throughout this time of crisis. Stay tuned for a link to access the services referenced in this article.

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