Health and Health Care in Autistic Children and Adults | Organization for Autism Research


Presented on
Thursday, April 1, 2021
Jessica Rast
Length: 1 hour

Health and Health Care in Autistic Children and Adults


Health and health care are critical issues for autistic individuals and can be highly complex. Autistic people often have multiple physical and mental health concerns, frequently see specialists, and use multiple medications. Unfortunately, the current healthcare system often fails to adequately address the needs of people on the spectrum. As a result, there is more frequent need for emergency health care and hospitalization and frequent unmet needs. We must understand health and healthcare needs across the life course so that recommendations can be made about how to improve health and health care at critical points in a person’s life.

This webinar presents findings from the recent National Autism Indicators Report: Health and Health Care. This report, the sixth in the National Autism Indicators Report Series produced from the Life Course Outcomes Research Program area at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, reports indicators of health and health care for autistic people across the lifespan. Topics covered include overall health, health services, medication, insurance, and accessing services. The report combines data from two national surveys about health, one national sample of hospital inpatient stays, and previously published findings from Kaiser Permanente Northern California patient records.

Findings highlight that autistic people have many healthcare needs that are not adequately addressed and needs for non-physical health concerns such as mental health and specialty care are more often unmet. The report also highlights the racial and ethnic disparities that persist in health and health care in the US. Specific concern arises around health care transition, with low access to health care transition for youth and limited availability of adult health care providers with autism knowledge. The purpose of this report is to catalogue indicators to aid in decision making that improves the quality of care and quality of life of autistic persons.

Jessica Rast is a researcher at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute of Drexel University. She works in the Life Course Outcomes research program area examining questions about the lives, experiences, and services of autistic people. In her role, she catalogues and analyzes existing national data sources to present a national picture of experiences across life domains and the life span. Much of her work focuses on the transition period from adolescence to adulthood. She is particularly interested in health, health care, and models of health service provision, including examining ways primary care can facilitate mental health care in autistic children and adults.

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