Outpatient psychotherapy for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: access and satisfaction

Silke Lipinski (1,2), Ulrike Sünkel (2,3), Hanna Drimalla (1,2), Elisabeth Blanke (1,4), Thomas
Bergmann (2), Regina Hartmann (2), James Anglim (2), Oliver Speer (2), Isabel Dziobek (1,2)

(1) Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
(2) Autismus-Forschungs-Kooperation Berlin (AFK)
(3) Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
(4) Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

Background: With regard to outpatient psychotherapy (oPT) people with an
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASC) often express having to deal with difficult conditions.
This study assesses the extent to which people with ASC have difficulties accessing oPT, which wishes exist regarding initial contact and therapist characteristics and how satisfied they are with past oPT.

For an anonymous online questionnaire survey 139 participants with ASC (age: M = 39, SD = 12; 63% females) and 96 participants (C) with main diagnoses Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) (age: M = 34, SD = 10; 79% females) were recruited in Internet forums and support groups and asked about their experiences regarding oPT. The diagnosis had to be provided by a specialist doctor or psychologist. An influence of the sex on the intergroup results could not
be detected.

Results: Although participants with ASC had significantly more difficulties in everyday life without help (p = .002) and tended to more frequently than the control subjects think about doing oPT (p = .097), they had made significantly less therapies (p = .002). In search for an oPT ASC persons made less contact approaches (p = .000) and received fewer rejections than the clinical control group (p = .000). Nevertheless 105 (81%) people with ASC perceived difficulties in accessing oPT (K: n = 64; 74%). As means of initial contact people in the ASC group significantly more often wished for email-communication than people in the control group (p = .000). Further results, such as wishes regarding therapist characteristics and patient satisfaction will be presented at the conference.

Conclusions: Despite greater need for assistance and more frequent considering of oPT, individuals with ASC make less initial contact approaches than the control group. Unlike the clinical controls, for adults with ASC the most desirable means for initial contact was email. The subjective perception of difficulty accessing oPT might therefore be related to the typically offered contact means for oPT, that are not tailored to the needs of people with autism.

Sponsors: Silke Lipinski received a scholarship of the Stiftung Irene.
Conflicts of interest: /
Contact: M.A. Silke Lipinski, Luisenstraße 56, 10117 Berlin
Tel: 0157-83957509, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.