The experiences of autistic adults accessing healthcare services

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Moore, Laura
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University College Cork
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Background: Autistic adults experience high rates of metal health difficulties and face significant barriers to accessing appropriate mental health care. Empirical research and recent professional guidelines emphasise the importance of modifying standard mental health interventions to best meet the needs of autistic adults. Aim: This systematic review explored mental health professionals’ experiences of adapting mental health interventions for autistic adults. Method: A systematic search was conducted on CINAHL, PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science in July 2022. The findings from 13 identified studies were synthesised using thematic synthesis. Results: Three major analytical themes were generated, the unique experience of adapting interventions for autistic clients, factors which facilitate successful adaptations, and challenges to adapting interventions. Each theme contained a number of subsequent sub-themes. Conclusion: Professionals view the process of adapting interventions to be a highly individualised process. A range of personal traits, professional experiences, and systemic, service-based issues were identified in facilitating or challenging this individualised process. Further research regarding adaptations with different intervention models and increased supportive resources are required to enable professionals to successfully adapt interventions for autistic adult clients. Background: Available research suggests autistic mothers experience greater dissatisfaction with maternity care compared to non-autistic mothers. Limited research exists exploring autistic mothers’ experiences of maternity care and no research to date has considered maternity care professionals’ experiences of delivering care to autistic mothers. Aim: This qualitative study aims to explore the experiences of receiving and providing maternity care for autistic mothers. Method: Data was collected using semi-structured interviews with four autistic mothers and four midwives. Data was analysed using Multiperspectival Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results: Three overarching themes emerged: ‘the challenge of autism within maternity care’, ‘the importance of the caring relationship’, and ‘the challenge of navigating competing demands and priorities’. Conclusion: Findings highlight the unique challenges experienced by autistic mothers during labour and birth, the need for increased autism awareness in midwifery, and further suggest universal changes to the delivery of maternity care for all, which would likely have additional benefit for autistic women.
Autism , Autistic parents , Mental health interventions
Moore, L. 2023. The experiences of autistic adults accessing healthcare services. DClinPsych Thesis, University College Cork.
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