Intellectual disabilities and autism are lifelong and often co-occur. Little is known on their extent of independent association with sensory impairments and physical disability.
For Scotland’s population, logistic regressions investigated age-gender-adjusted odds ratios (OR) of associations, independently, of intellectual disabilities and autism with sensory impairments and physical disability.
1,548,819 children/youth, and 3,746,584 adults. In children/youth, the effect size of intellectual disabilities and autism, respectively, was as follows: blindness (OR = 30.12; OR = 2.63), deafness (OR = 13.98; OR = 2.31), and physical disability (OR = 43.72; OR = 5.62). For adults, the effect size of intellectual disabilities and autism, respectively, was as follows: blindness (OR = 16.89; OR = 3.29), deafness (OR = 7.47; OR = 2.36), and physical disability (OR = 6.04; OR = 3.16).
Intellectual disabilities have greater association with the population burden of sensory impairments/physical disability, but autism is also associated regardless of overlap with intellectual disabilities. These may impact further on communication limitations due to autism and intellectual disabilities, increasing complexity of assessments/management of other health conditions. Clinicians need to be aware of these important issues.

© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.