Objective and subjective psychosocial outcomes in adults with autism spectrum disorder: A 6-year longitudinal study

Anke M Scheeren, J Marieke Buil, Patricia Howlin, Meike Bartels, Sander Begeer

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

LAY ABSTRACT: Previous research has shown that relatively few adults with autism have a paid job or live on their own. However, outcomes also vary a lot and may depend on many different factors. In this study, we examined the level of functioning and happiness of 917 adults with autism (425 men and 492 women) aged 18-65 years. Most of them were of average to high intellectual ability. Over 6 years, we measured whether they had a paid job, close friendships and lived on their own (i.e. their objective functioning). We also measured how happy they felt. Objectively, most autistic adults did fairly to very well. Those with better objective outcomes (e.g. those with paid work) also tended to be happier. Most adults improved in objective functioning and happiness over 6 years. Participants with a lower intellectual ability, more autism traits, mental health problems and younger age had poorer objective outcomes. Participants with more autism traits and mental health problems were less happy. Autistic men and women functioned at similar levels and were equally happy. We found important factors that predict a better (or worse) outcome for autistic adults. Overall, compared with some previous research, our findings give a more positive picture of the outcomes for autistic adults with average to high intellectual abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13623613211027673
JournalAutism : the international journal of research and practice
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2021

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