Exploring the Mental Healthcare Experiences of Autistic LGBTQ+ Young Adults: A Community-Partnered Study

Institution: University of California, Los Angeles

Project Overview

This study delves into the mental healthcare experiences of LGBTQ+ autistic-identifying young adults, a group known to face significant disparities in healthcare access.

Utilizing a community-partnered approach, the research team worked with autistic LGBTQ+ individuals as co-researchers. The study gathered data from 29 participants through a demographic survey and semi-structured interviews, focusing on their access to mental healthcare.

Initial findings from the interviews, which included a significant portion of nonbinary or gender-expansive individuals, reveal key themes: the impact of ableism on mental health, the usefulness of concrete tools in therapy, and that therapists who affirm LGBTQ+ identities tend to be neurodivergent-friendly.

The insights gained highlight the need for mental health supports that are both autistic and LGBTQ+ affirming. These results offer valuable guidance for clinicians and help autistic LGBTQ+ adults in seeking compatible mental health support.

Project Mentors and Contributors

Dr. Alexandra Sturm, PhD, Dr. Amanda Apgar, PhD, & Dr. Patricia Greenfield, PhD