Study examines adult quality of life, participation in employment, and trajectories of self-care skills and psychopathology across the lifespan

Recently published work from the Lord Lab has examined the adult outcomes of individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. Using longitudinal data collected over nearly thirty years, these studies examined adult quality of life, participation in employment and other community activities, and trajectories of self-care skills and psychopathology (i.e., depression, anxiety, and ADHD symptoms) across the lifespan. This work found that adults with ASD and adults with non-ASD developmental disabilities had similar outcomes across many domains, though having an ASD diagnosis was associated with lower quality of life in adulthood (McCauley et al., 2020). High amounts of psychopathology were also associated with poorer adult outcomes (McCauley, Elias, & Lord, 2020). Strong self-care skills predicted adult participation in post-secondary education (Clarke, McCauley & Lord, 2020). Notably, families continued to play a major role in supporting adults with ASD and other developmental disabilities at all intellectual levels (Lord et al., 2020).

To better understand adult outcomes, the Lord Lab is currently conducting work examining change and stability in the vocational activities of adults with ASD from ages 18-28. The lab is also completing interviews of adults with ASD and their parents to better understand the vital role families of individuals with ASD play across the lifespan, and how this role may shift in adulthood.