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Finding Autism-Competent Health Care

What is autism-competent health care?

Why do we call it “autism-competent health care” instead of “autism-friendly health care?” Because medical providers can be friendly but not understand how best to care for autistic patients. It’s an education issue, not an attitude issue.

For autistic people, it can be easier to avoid seeking care because both the process and the medical environment itself are too overwhelming. This can be due to the distractions caused by sounds and lights in the clinic, verbal instructions that are too quick or unclear, touch during exams that feels uncomfortable, or procedures like blood draws that are extra painful. Making appointments, getting to the office, and navigating through the steps of an office visit can all prove difficult, too. AAHR provides help on all of these fronts and more.

Most providers who care for adults understand neurodiversity, but not all of them know best practices when it comes to treating adults with autism. Harvard Medical School has created a clinician course to bring providers important knowledge about caring for autistic adults. Yet, autistic patients need to find good care now.

Get more specifics in our article What's an Autism-Competent Office?

Resources to Help Find Autism-Competent Care

  • ECHO Autism has a directory for finding clinicians trained in best practices for treating autistic children and adults.

  • Psychology Today has an excellent directory for finding therapists, many of whom provide autism-competent care.

  • The AASPIRE Toolkit is a good resource that can help patients find an adult provider who understands autism-competent care.

  • Got Transition? has many key resources to guide autistic young adults and their families through transitions in medical care. Their Implementation Guides are especially useful in navigating the medical transition to new providers.