Monday, March 3, 2014

7 Important Ways That Autism Can Impact Medical Care

originally posted on

Image courtesy jasleen_kaur

If you’re in the position to provide someone with autism with medical care - as a teacher, childcare worker, parent, medical or health professional - it’s important to understand how autism can affect the way people experience illness, pain and healthcare treatments.

Seeking help

There are a lot of reasons why autistic people, particularly children, might not seek help when feeling unwell.

Some can have trouble knowing when or how to get help, who to tell and what words to use to describe the problem. They might want to avoid the extra attention or intense emotional reaction of caregivers in response to being ill, or a frightening and possibly painful visit to the doctor’s office. Everyone feels more vulnerable when unwell or in pain, and this can make some people withdraw or find it difficult to know where to place their trust.

Visiting the doctor, dentist or hospital can be overwhelming, stressful and traumatic experiences. Most have bright lights, strong smells and the kind of acoustics that cause overload and chaos for hypersensitive nervous systems. Waiting can be difficult for some, especially if the room is crowded or there are noisy distractions like the TV or babies crying, and it can be easy to miss your name being called when your focus is elsewhere. All of these can contribute to making medical help an experience to actively avoid rather than seek out.

Reporting & treating pain

Getting an accurate assessment of the pain experienced by people with autism can be difficult for a number of reasons, and it’s less likely that the correct treatment or relief will be offered if the pain is overlooked or misinterpreted.

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