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Advancing Healthcare Quality for People on the Autism Spectrum

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“I don't seek healthcare I could really use, even though I have insurance, because I know that seeking non-emergent health care will probably ultimately do more harm than good,” autistic mother of two in the Twin Cities.

Approximately 1% of the population is diagnosed on the autism spectrum(1), with many more undiagnosed, especially adults and females across the lifespan4.

A new online learning community has launched to help health professionals provide patient-centered care for those on the autism spectrum in any setting. The Health Professions Autism Network (HPAN) is a learning community which provides resources and networking opportunity on the topic. It is free and easy to join, and participants are welcome to be involved in any way or amount they like. HPAN is proud to be working with the Autism Society of Minnesota as our Community Sponsor.

Unfortunately, there are significant health disparities in the autism community. The mortality rate is 2-3 times the comparison groups of the same age and sex(7). Many chronic conditions are found in significantly higher proportions, such as seizure disorder, hypertension, anxiety and depression, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, sleep disturbances, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and thyroid disease(2,3,6). A recent study reported that autistic teenagers use the emergency department 4 times more frequently than their peers(5), and the authors suggest that inadequate primary care may be a major factor.

Join the community to work together to provide outstanding care.

(1)Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Data & statistics. (2015). Retrieved from

(2)Croen, L. A., Zerbo, O., Qian, Y., Massolo, M. L., Rich, S., Sidney, S., & Kripke, C. (2015). The health status of adults on the autism spectrum. Autism, 19(7), 814-823.

(3)Fortuna, R. J., Robinson, L., Smith, T. H., Meccarello, J., Bullen, B., Nobis, K., & Davidson, P. W. (2015). Health conditions and functional status in adults with autism: A cross-sectional evaluation. J Gen Intern Med, 31(1), 77–84.

(4)Kumazaki, H., Muramatsu, T., Kosaka, H., Fujisawa, T. X., Iwatac, K., Tomoda, A., ... Mimura, M. (2015, May). Sex differences in cognitive and symptom profiles in children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 13-14, 1-7.

(5)Liu, G., Pearl, A.M., Kong, L. et al. (2017) A Profile on emergency department utilization in adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 47: 347. doi:10.1007/s10803-016-2953-8

(6)Nicolaidis, C., Kripke, C. C., & Raymaker, D. (2014). Primary care for adults on the autism spectrum. The Medical Clinics of North America, 98(5), 1169-1191.

(7)Woolfenden, S., & Sarkozy, V. (2012). A systematic review of two outcomes in autism spectrum disorder– epilepsy and mortality. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 54, 306-312.


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