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The PAAFID project: exploring the perspectives of autism in adult females among intellectual disability healthcare professionals

Samuel Tromans (Department of Psychiatry, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, UK) (Department of Health Sciences, Mental Health, Ageing, Public Health and Primary Care (MAPP) Group, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)
Verity Chester (Department of Psychiatry, Partnerships in Care Learning Disability Services, Norfolk, UK) (Department of Medical, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Chaya Kapugama (Department of Psychiatry, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, UK)
Amy Elliott (University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK)
Sarah Robertson (Department of Intellectual Disability, Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, Radlett, UK)
Mary Barrett (Department of Intellectual Disability, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Leicester, UK)

Advances in Autism

ISSN: 2056-3868

Article publication date: 20 February 2019

Issue publication date: 11 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the perspectives of healthcare professionals on autism in adult females with intellectual disability (ID), including regarding the gender ratio of autism, the clinical manifestation of autism in females, and the recognition, screening and diagnosis of autism.

Design/methodology/approach

The questionnaire was developed following a review of the relevant literature and distributed to professionals within three healthcare trusts as well as members of two clinical research groups. The questionnaire was completed by 80 ID healthcare professionals. Data were aggregated and analysed using Microsoft Excel.

Findings

ID healthcare professionals had a lack of recognition of the smaller gender ratio of autism in patients with ID as compared to those without ID. Most respondents reported believing that autism manifests differently in females; with women demonstrating a greater ability to mask their symptoms. A considerable proportion of participants reported feeling less confident in recognising, screening and diagnosing autism in female patients, with many endorsing a wish for additional training in this area.

Practical implications

These findings suggest that ID healthcare professionals are keen to improve their skills in providing services for women with autism. Training programmes at all levels should incorporate the specific needs of women with ASD, and individual professionals and services should actively seek to address these training needs in order to promote best practice and better outcomes for women with autism.

Originality/value

This is the first published questionnaire exploring the perspectives of healthcare professionals regarding autism in adult females with ID.

Keywords

Citation

Tromans, S., Chester, V., Kapugama, C., Elliott, A., Robertson, S. and Barrett, M. (2019), "The PAAFID project: exploring the perspectives of autism in adult females among intellectual disability healthcare professionals", Advances in Autism, Vol. 5 No. 3, pp. 157-170. https://doi.org/10.1108/AIA-09-2018-0033

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited