Let’s not go back to ‘normal’! Lessons from COVID-19 for professionals working in childhood disability


Synopsis of resource

Purpose: The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost all aspects of our lives, and the field of childhood disability is no exception.

Methods: This article is based on an invited lecture by the first author at a conference organized by the other authors and their colleagues in May 2020.

Results: The first author offers his own experiences and perspectives, supplemented by comments and observations contributed by many of the 9000 attendees at this talk, as curated by the second and third authors. The basic messages are that while life for families of children with developmental disabilities, and for service providers who work with them, is significantly altered, many important lessons are being learned.

Conclusions: The comments from participants support the currency of the ideas presented, and encourage childhood disability professionals to reflect on what we are learning, so that we can seize the opportunities they afford to do things differently—and we believe better—moving forward.


Key learning outcome

  • The COVID pandemic has upended everyone’s lives.
  • Experience suggests that despite wrenching upheaval there have been many effective adaptations to move beyond ‘business as usual’.
  • Colleagues who listened to the talk on which this paper is based contributed valuable perspectives to the ‘discussion’.
  • The bottom line is that we must seize the opportunities imposed on our work to expand the scope of what we do, and how we do it.



Peter L. Rosenbaum, Mindy Silva & Chantal Camden (2021) Let’s not go back to ‘normal’! lessons from COVID-19 for professionals working in childhood disability, Disability and Rehabilitation, 43:7, 1022-1028, DOI: 10.1080/09638288.2020.1862925