Aging and autism: Do measures of autism symptoms, co-occurring mental health conditions, or quality of life differ between younger and older autistic adults?

Zivrali, Esra Zıvralı; Roestorf, Amanda; Spain, Debbie; Howlin, Patricia; Bowler, Dermot; Charlton, Rebecca A and Happé, Francesca. 2022. Aging and autism: Do measures of autism symptoms, co-occurring mental health conditions, or quality of life differ between younger and older autistic adults? Autism Research, 15(8), pp. 1482-1494. ISSN 1939-3792 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Previous research has consistently indicated that autistic adults experience higher rates of co-occurring mental health difficulties and poorer quality of life (QoL) than their non-autistic peers. Little is known, however, about these aspects in older age or whether younger and older autistic adults experience similar patterns This cross-sectional study investigated potential age-related effects on autism symptoms, self-reported mental health and QoL in younger and older autistic adults (n=79, aged 19-71 years) compared to a non-autistic control group (n=57) matched for gender, age and IQ. Results showed that autistic adults had higher levels of self-reported autism symptoms and poorer QoL than controls. There were no significant age effects on autism symptoms or on most self-rated mental health symptoms. However, significantly more autistic adults in the younger versus older group scored above the clinical threshold for anxiety, somatoform disorders and eating disorders. Older autistic adults rated social QoL as significantly better than younger autistic adults; there was no significant age difference in the control group. Self-reported QoL was best predicted by self-ratings of severity of depressive symptoms in both groups. Further research is needed to track autism and co-occurring mental health symptomatology across the lifespan, so that service provision can be tailored accordingly.

Item Type:

Article

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.2780

Additional Information:

EZY was funded by the Republic of Turkey Ministry of National Education PhD Research Fellowship between 2013 and 2017. AR was funded by the Medical Research Council UK and the National Autistic Society for a Case Industry MSc and PhD Studentship between 2014 and 2018 (Grant No. MR/K016911/10) at City, University of London. FH is part-funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London.

Keywords:

Autism spectrum disorder, adults, mental health, quality of life, ageing

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology

Dates:

DateEvent
21 June 2022Accepted
5 July 2022Published Online
August 2022Published

Item ID:

31929

Date Deposited:

21 Jun 2022 10:55

Last Modified:

15 Aug 2022 13:56

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/31929

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