People with a learning disability have higher rates of morbidity and mortality than the general population and die prematurely. At least 41% of them die from respiratory conditions. They have a higher prevalence of asthma and diabetes, and of being obese or underweight in people. All these factors make them more vulnerable to coronavirus. There is evidence that people with autism also have higher rates of health problems throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and that this may result in elevated risk of early mortality.
This guide, from NHS England, states the following key points should be addressed when assessing and treating a patient with a learning disability or with autism who is suspected of having or is known to have coronavirus:
- Be aware of diagnostic overshadowing
- Pay attention to healthcare passports
- Listen to parents/carers
- Make reasonable adjustments
- Understanding behavioural responses to illness/pain/discomfort
- Mental Capacity Act
- Ask for specialist support and advice if necessary
- Mental wellbeing and emotional distress.
Please download the full guide for further detail.