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Social Functioning of Adults with ASD: Results From a 30-Year Follow-up

Friday, 3 May 2013: 16:30
Chamber Hall (Kursaal Centre)
M. Farley1, W. M. McMahon2, H. Coon1, J. Viskochil3, S. Harward1, E. Haygeman1, A. V. Bakian1 and D. Bilder1, (1)University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, (2)Psychiatry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, (3)Utah Autism Research Program, Salt Lake City, UT
Background:  The Epidemiological Survey of Autism in Utah was a statewide effort from 1984 to 1988 to ascertain all cases of ASD, aged 3 to 25.  DSM-IV diagnostic criteria were recently applied to cases of individuals who showed characteristics of ASD during the 1980's study but did not meet DSM-III criteria for Autistic Disorder.  The resulting sample from both projects includes 305 adults. 

Objectives:  To describe the current life situation for a population-based sample of adults with ASD, including level of functional abilities, residential status, service use, and social participation. 

Methods:    Direct assessments with participants included the ADOS and IQ tests.  Informants provided information on social participation, employment, residential history, service use, interests, and requisite levels of support.  A social functioning composite score was assigned to each participant reflecting their current residential situation, employment, and social relationships.  These scores fall within categories ranging from "Very Good" to "Very Poor".

Results:  Adult outcome data have been collected for 63% of the total sample.  Participants in the adult assessment included 37 females and 154 males, with an average age of 34.75 years (SD = 6.23 years).  Thirty-three were deceased.  Social functioning composite scores among the survivors included 21% in the Very Good/Good range, 35% in the "Fair" range, and 49% in the "Poor/Very Poor" range.  

Roughly 60% of the participants were unable to complete a standard IQ test for adults.  The average Full Scale IQ score for those who completed the test was 72.08 (SD = 28.50).

Employment results were: 15% in full-time work, 24% in part-time work, 24% in supported work or a sheltered workshop, 19% in a day program, and 13% being without any structured daytime activities.  Approximately 80% were receiving disability payments and Medicaid. 

Results concerning living situation were: 40% living at home with their parents, 8% living in their own homes independently, 5% living in their own homes with regular assistance, 20% living in a group home, and 26% living in a residential facility that provides constant care and supervision. 

Informants reported on participants' interest in having more social relationship, indicating that they believed 68% would not enjoy additional social relationships and 31% would.  Informants for 14% said they were uncertain.  Roughly 30% of the participants had dated in the past. 

Conclusions:  Social functioning composite scores for this sample, which includes individuals across the full range of intellectual and functional abilities, were similar to what has been reported for other adult samples.  Fewer adults were living with their family of origin than has been reported from previous studies, and a larger proportion was employed than has been reported for other samples.  These differences could be related to the fact that this sample is 5 years older, on average, than other samples previously described.  Additional years may provide more opportunity to find employment.  Others may have become eligible for scarce public resources and entered supportive programs.  Aging caregivers may also have acted to move their family member with ASD into adult support services.

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