HealthDay News — Only 20 percent of health care and behavioral service providers discuss transportation with autistic patients, according to research published online Dec. 1 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Emma B. Sartin, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues characterized health care and behavioral service providers’ transportation-related discussions with their autistic and nonautistic patients using a cross-sectional survey completed by 78 providers.

The researchers found that only one in five providers discussed transportation with their autistic patients compared with one in two providers who reported having these discussions with nonautistic patients. Providers reported first discussing transportation-related topics with families at a median age of 15 years for both autistic and nonautistic patients. Only 33 percent of providers endorsed having adequate knowledge to assess driving readiness among nonautistic patients compared with 8 percent of providers for autistic patients; 26 percent routinely referred patients elsewhere.

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“Initiating transportation conversations earlier in adolescence might provide more time for autistic youth to benefit from access to supports to improve independent mobility, including those built into non-health care institutions,” the authors write.

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