Social Support and Links to Quality of Life Among Middle and Older Age Autistic Adults

Charlton, Rebecca A; McQuaid, Goldie A and Wallace, Gregory L.. 2022. Social Support and Links to Quality of Life Among Middle and Older Age Autistic Adults. Autism, ISSN 1362-3613 [Article] (In Press)

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Abstract or Description

Social support has a positive impact on quality of life (QoL) in neurotypical older adults and young autistic adults, but the association for older autistic adults is unclear. Autistic adults (n=388; mean age=40-83 years) were recruited via Simons Powering Autism Research for Knowledge research match. Participants completed questionnaires online querying demographic information, depression and anxiety symptomatology, QoL (Physical, Psychological, Social, Environmental, Autism-specific) and social support (instrumental, subjective and social interactions). Regression analyses examined whether different aspects of social support explained the variance in each domain of QoL. A significant proportion of the variance (36-58%) in QoL was explained. Subjective social support significantly contributed to the models for all aspects of QoL; Physical and Psychological QoL were also explained by social interactions, whereas Social, Environmental and Autism-specific QoL were additionally explained by instrumental support. Social support is an important contributor to the QoL of middle-aged and older autistic adults, after accounting for demographic factors and depression. Further studies are required to understand whether age-related changes in social support and QoL are the same for autistic as non-autistic older adults in order to identify and implement appropriate support.

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The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The George Washington University start-up funds to G.L.W., and an Autism Speaks Postdoctoral Fellowship (Grant ID 11808) to G.A.M.


Adulthood, Autism, Quality of Life, Social support

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8 July 2021Submitted
2 February 2022Accepted
1 April 2022Published Online

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20 Aug 2021 15:19

Last Modified:

27 Apr 2022 12:20


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