GPs and health professionals: learning disabilities and autism

If you are a GP or other health professional there are lots of things to keep in mind to help you help your patients with learning disabilities and autism.

Reasonable adjustments

Healthcare workers need to make it as easy for disabled people to use health services as it is for people who are not disabled. This is called making ‘reasonable adjustments’.

People with learning disabilities may be nervous about visiting the doctor, so it’s also important to spend extra time on making sure they are comfortable:

  • Make sure you explain what the appointment will involve so nothing unexpected happens
  • Let them ask questions
  • Check they understand
  • Ask them if there is anything else you can do for them

Learning disabilities

Some of the things you can do to help your patients with learning disabilities include:

  • Making sure they are on the learning disability register (for patients over the age of 14).
  • Offering anyone on the learning disability register an Annual Health Check.
  • During the Annual Health Check, work with your patient to do a Health Action Plan.


When working with autistic patients, it can be helpful to bear in mind:

  • GP appointments can be intense for autistic people. Bear in mind eye contact can be difficult for autistic people.
  • Take your time over explaining things as too much information can be overwhelming.

The following video includes a range of teenagers talking about their experiences with GPs, and some of the things they’d like done differently:

Other information for you

This page was co-produced, last updated: 14/04/21

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