Monday, February 9, 2015

Twenty-Year Outcome for Individuals with ASD



Past research on adults diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with average or near-average IQ scores have found a great variability in their outcomes (job, living independently, and friendships). To learn more about these outcomes, researchers at the University of Utah interviewed the parents of adults with ASD – average age was 33 years old - who had participated in a study twenty years earlier.

After conducting interviews with the parents of the participants, the researchers rated their job status, living situation, and number and quality of friendships as “Very Good,” “Good,” “Fair,” “Poor,” or “Very Poor.”

They found that this sample had comparable or better outcomes in adulthood than other samples with similar IQ scores. Half of the adults received ratings of “Very Good” or “Good” on a global outcome measure that combined across all the domains.

Stable or improved IQ scores and good daily living skills seemed to be most closely related to better outcomes. Daily living skills include bathing, dressing, feeding oneself, managing a household, and taking care of one’s health and finances. If daily living skills are a key component of desirable adult outcomes, this may have implications for future training/intervention programs to foster independence in adulthood.

Another factor that may account for part of the outcome success of this sample is that they lived in a local community that emphasized the inclusion of individuals with disabilities. Other scientists across the country are now examining how family and community factors can positively influence the outcomes of individuals with ASD and other developmental disabilities. Early returns on this research are showing that praise and positive parent-child relationships also contribute to better outcomes.


Sources: Farley, M.A., McMahon, W.M., Fombonne, E., Jenson, W.R., Miller, J., Gardner, M., Block, H., Pingree, C.B., Ritvo, E.R., Ritvo, R.A., and Coon, H. (2009). Twenty-Year Outcome for Individuals with Autism and Average or Near-Average Cognitive Abilities. Autism Research, 2(2):109-118. doi: 10.1002/aur.69.

Woodman, A. C., Smith, L. E., Greenberg, J. S., Mailick, M. R. (2015). Change in Autism Symptoms and Maladaptive Behaviors in Adolescence and Adulthood: The Role of Positive Family Processes. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45(1), 111–126. doi:10.1007/s10803-014-2199-2

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