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People with intellectual disability (ID) and/or autism (ASD) often experience challenges when receiving care in environments where approaches are designed for the needs of typical thinkers (those without ID/ASD), including mainstream healthcare environments.

To allow positive and affective experiences and make sure things go well, reasonable adjustments to care are often required to address individual needs.

Common adjustments to make things go well include:

Ask about individualised care needs: Different individuals with ID and/or ASD may require individualised approaches when accessing healthcare. Each person’s individual needs can change for each healthcare encounter, so it is important always to ask.

Allowing extra time: Extra time for caring for people with ID and/or ASD can help ensure where appropriate instructions about healthcare procedures are broken down, reasonable adjustments are asked about and implemented, and overall anxiety is reduced. Taking extra time upfront can improve the experience for the person and save a lot of time spent in reactionary measures later.

Planning: Where appropriate, making formal plans for reasonable adjustments and planning in advance to reduce stressful situations for people with ID and/or ASD can greatly improve healthcare experiences. Carers are a good information source to talk to, in advance, about what ‘stress’ might look like for the individual and what the triggers might be, as well as how to organise resources for reasonable adjustments ahead of time.

Multidisciplinary Approaches: Utilising the expertise and input of a range of healthcare professionals in your health setting, can help improve healthcare experiences and requires strong collaboration. Speaking to support workers, carers,  and members of the healthcare team involved can help ensure the most appropriate adjustments to care are made.

Adapting care: Certain situations, especially in nursing, require immediate ability to adapt treatment based on patient response. Being flexible in your approach will allow you to factor in reasonable adjustments when caring for people with ID and/or ASD.