Current Developmental Disorders Reports

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 45–56 | Cite as

How Can We Support the Healthcare Needs of Autistic Adults Without Intellectual Disability?

  • Pia BradshawEmail author
  • Elizabeth Pellicano
  • Mieke van Driel
  • Anna Urbanowicz
Autism Spectrum (A Richdale and L Lawson, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Autism Specrtum


Purpose of Review

Autistic adults often experience unmet health-care needs. We conducted a review of the literature on the barriers and facilitators to health care for autistic adults without intellectual disability. We also describe examples of available health supports for this population.

Recent Findings

Barriers and facilitators to health care were grouped into three categories: (1) patient-level factors, (2) provider-level factors, and (3) system-level factors. Patient-level factors included communication issues, anxiety, sensory differences, socio-economic factors and previous experiences with health-care professionals. Provider-level factors included a lack of provider knowledge and training, and incorporating communication accommodations and supporters. System-level factors included accessibility of health-care facilities and limited referral pathways.


Autism training for health professionals with an emphasis on: managing communicative differences; changing practice environments to be more “autism friendly”; and approaching physical examinations in a mindful manner which respects sensory sensitivities, can help facilitate access to and engagement in health-care services for autistic adults. Few evidence based health supports for autistic adults exist, with greater research needed in this area.


Autism Adults Physical health Mental health General practitioners 



The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

The PhD candidate (Pia Bradshaw) acknowledges the financial support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Pia Bradshaw acknowledges the financial support (PhD scholarship) of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program. Pia Bradshaw also reports being an autistic adult and incorporating personal experiences as an autistic adult into the article under Fig. 1. Elizabeth Pellicano, Mieke van Driel, and Anna Urbanowicz declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pia Bradshaw
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Elizabeth Pellicano
    • 2
    • 4
  • Mieke van Driel
    • 5
  • Anna Urbanowicz
    • 3
    • 6
  1. 1.Level 2 Aubigny Place, Mater HospitalsSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC)BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Queensland Centre for Intellectual and Developmental Disability (QCIDD), MRI-UQThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Macquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Primary Care Clinical Unit, Faculty of MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  6. 6.Social and Global Studies CentreRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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