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Despite the growing body of evidence, our understanding of barriers to healthcare encountered by individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) remains limited, particularly beyond childhood and outside higher resource countries.

In our recent article published in Pediatric Research, we discuss: 

  • Common barriers to healthcare access (e.g. shortage/cost of services, physician awareness, stigma)
  • Barriers encountered primarily during childhood, transition to adulthood and adulthood
  • Advances in research/program development for better healthcare access 

A robust understanding of barriers to accessing healthcare across the lifespan of autistic individuals is critical to ensuring the best use of healthcare resources to improve social, physical, and mental health outcomes.

Our article also highlights important steps that stakeholders can take to improve healthcare service provision and enhance healthcare access for all individuals with ASD by coming together to:

  1. Better understand the healthcare needs of underserved populations
  2. Strengthen medical training on how to care for autistic individuals
  3. Increase public awareness of ASD and promote research into/uptake of tools for ASD screening, diagnosis, and treatment
  4. Understand specific healthcare needs of autistic individuals in lower resource countries
  5. Conduct longitudinal studies to understand the lifetime health, social, and economic impacts of ASD and enable the evaluation of novel approaches to increasing healthcare access.

Shift Health’s Natasha Malik, Helen Luck, Anne Mullin and Ryan Wiley co-authored the article with leaders in the field—Suzanne Lewis, Autism Canada, University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute; Joaquin Fuentes, Policlínica Gipuzkoa and GAUTENA Autism Society; Thomas W. Frazier, Autism Speaksto synthesize available evidence, present an integrated understanding of healthcare needs and barriers, and highlight gaps in our knowledge.

Discover more by reading our article in Nature Portfolio’s Pediatric Research here.