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Top Tips for Clinicians consulting with patients on the Autistic Spectrum

Royal College of General Practitioners LogoTop Tips for Clinicians Consulting with Patients of the Autistic Spectrum



  • Speak calmly and clearly in short sentences
  • Ask direct and closed questions – avoid too many choices or too much information inone go
  • Wait for responses to questions. Do not repeat yourself or ask in a different way
  • No eye contact does not mean the person is not listening. Start a question byaddressing them so they know you are speaking to them
  • Language should be kept as literal as possible – jokes, metaphors or sarcasm canbe confusing
  • Check that the person really understands what you have said – the verbal skills orapparent agreement may not mirror actual understanding of the information
  • Explain verbally and/or in writing the process of the consultation
  • Demonstrate an action or intended procedure before starting it
  • Recap and write down future plans. Try to give written information if possible
  • Avoid diagnostic overshadowing. Co-morbidity is common and you should alwaysconsider a serious illness, particularly if the person’s behavior changes.
  • Consult family or carers, with permission, for more information and to establish ifyour patient has particular sensitivities
  • But do not assume the person with Autism must have a carer present – they shouldbe offered the same confidentiality as all
  • Make sure the diagnosis is coded as a significant active problem on the computer
  • Ensure reasonable adjustments needed to access your services are clearly recorded
  • Referrals to other services should include clear instructions about any reasonableadjustments that may be needed



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This document contains guidance for medical professionals and is provided for general information
purposes only. The information and recommendations within this document should be considered and
applied in the context of wider professional judgment and do not replace existing professional
obligations or regulations; neither should they be relied on as such.