Indigenous Australians with autism: A scoping review

Autism. 2020 Jul;24(5):1031-1046. doi: 10.1177/1362361319894829. Epub 2020 Jan 13.


Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with developmental disabilities such as autism are among the most marginalised people in Australian society. We reviewed research involving Indigenous Australians with autism based on a search of the peer-reviewed and grey literature. Our search identified 1457 potentially relevant publications. Of these, 19 publications were in line with our main areas of inquiry: autism spectrum disorder diagnosis and prevalence, carer and service provider perspectives on autism, and autism support services. These included 12 journal publications, 3 conference presentations, 1 resource booklet and 1 thesis dissertation. Findings suggest similar prevalence rates for autism among Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, although some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with autism may not receive a diagnosis or may be misdiagnosed. We also discuss research on the perspectives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander carers and Indigenous and non-Indigenous service providers, as well as barriers and strategies for improving access to diagnosis and support services.

Keywords: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; Australia; Indigenous; autism; autism spectrum disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder*
  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Humans
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
  • Prevalence