Michele Giannotti

University of Trento. Italy

The psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Italian and Spanish families of children with typical and atypical neurodevelopment: moving from research to practice

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Italy and Spain were among the most affected countries in the Western world, with stringent containment measures, such as strict home confinement. A growing body of research is documenting the negative psychological impact of COVID-19 pandemic on family functioning, including parental and child well-being. Nevertheless, only few studies addressed family adjustment to the pandemic in Italy and Spain, considering children with typical and atypical development. This symposium aimed at combining quantitative and qualitative research findings with new models of interventions to support parents and children during the pandemic crisis. We will present four different contributions, of which two focused on families of children with neurodevelopmental disorder. The first communication examines which factors are associated with parental stress changes from before to during the COVID-19 home confinement in Italian and Spanish families of children with neurodevelopmental disorder. The second communication presents two evidence-based telemedicine working models for the diagnosis and intervention in autism spectrum disorder. This innovative approach also include support for parents, and it can be considered as a potential integration of the traditional approaches. The third presentation is a cross-cultural study on families of children with typical development which examine the determinants of maternal stress during the first wave of the pandemic in Italy and Spain. The fourth communication is a Spanish study on school-age children’s storytelling activity conducted throughout the COVID-19 home confinement. This technique has been used as a valuable pedagogical tool for at-distance education, mainly to deal with the effects of social distancing. Taken together, this symposium can offer a wide perspective on family adjustment to COVID-19 pandemic in Italy and Spain, by integrating rigorous empirical evidence and newly developed techniques and models of interventions in families of children with typical and atypical neurodevelopment.


Michele Giannotti is a post-doctoral researcher and a registered clinical psychologist working in the field of child protection. He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and Education and he currently works as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Trento (Italy), Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science – Observation, Diagnosis Education Lab (ODFLab). Dr. Giannotti clinical and research work focuses on parenting and child development, with reference to transition to parenthood child maltreatment and assessment of attachment across the lifespan. He was recently awarded by the International Association for the Study of Attachment (IASA) for his contribution on the study attachment representations in school-age children with autism spectrum disorder without intellectual disabilities. He has delivered talks on the impact of transition to parenthood on paternal mental health, at-risk parenting, and quality of attachment in children with typical and atypical development in national and international conferences. Dr. Giannotti has published several papers on peer-reviewed scientific journals, and he is involved in different research projects on parenting and child development at national and international level.