B5-H: “I May Need Additional Support”: Requesting Accommodations and Effectively Communicating with Doctors

Adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often experience co-occurring physical and mental health challenges throughout their lives. At the same time, they often face many barriers to accessing proper care. Strategies to improve communication and understanding can help to mitigate some of these barriers. This presentation reviews research that examined the effects of an instructional package, including a video module accompanied by guided notes, the Autism Healthcare Accommodations Tool (AHAT), and behavior skills training (BST) to teach adults with autism to communicate their unique needs and request accommodations from a medical provider. Participants completed a self-guided video module that walked them through the process of completing the AHAT and guided notes to identify appropriate accommodations and prepare for a doctor’s appointment. Once completed, participants learned to verbalize their needs and accommodations through BST. Results showed that the participants’ communication skills increased after the introduction of the instructional package, generalized to a novel doctor and maintained once the instructional package was removed. Implications and suggestions for future research and practice will be discussed.


  1. Discuss why it is important to identify effective practices that support adults with autism to effectively communicate in medical settings.

2. Explain how the use of an instructional package increased the ability of adults with autism to communicate with a medical provider.

3. Describe how this intervention can be practically applied to prepare adults with autism for a doctor’s appointment.

4. List at least 2 follow-up research topics to further enhance healthcare access for adults with autism.


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