The Life of Adults with ASD in Japan: Are They Having a Happy Adulthood?

Friday, May 16, 2014
Atrium Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Atlanta)
M. Tsujii1, W. Noda2, T. Hagiwara3, K. Suzuki4 and S. Higo5, (1)Chukyo University, Toyota, Aichi, Japan, (2)Research Center for Child Mental Development, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Nagoya-shi, Japan, (3)Hokkaido University of Education, Asahikawa, Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan, (4)Department of Psychiatry, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Hamamatsu, Japan, (5)Faculty of Education, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan
Background:  Since the Act on Support for Persons with Developmental Disabilities has been in effect in 2004, services for children and youth with ASD has gradually increased in Japan. Services for adults with ASD, however, have remained in preparation status. There is a number of issues against supporting independent life of those population including immature adaptive skills for self-independence, perseveration affecting doing household chores, and none or limited leisure skills. Few literature and research in this area are available and practical solutions have not been proposed.

Objectives:  The primary focus of the present study was to understand the current status of daily living in adults with ASD in Japan. Specifically, the study analyzed their thoughts for their own life and support needs. Factors related to their independent living, including mental health conditions, community supports, residential issues, were also investigated.

Methods:  Sixty-four adults aged 18 to 52 (46 male, 18 female) participated in this study. A set of survey forms was distributed to each participant to fill out. Some participants needed help to understand meanings of the questions. The set was consisted of a questionnaire, the K10 (Furukawa et al., 2003), and the PRIME Screen-Revised (Kobayashi et al., 2008). A questionnaire was developed for the study to survey the participants’ current daily living, ideal lifestyle, and mental/medical conditions. 

Results: Collected data revealed that more than half of the participants did not have jobs and enough income or savings to keep living by themselves. More than 60 % of the participants reported they were living with their families. Over 70% of them wanted to stay with their families in the future. To the questions regarding the life after their parents’ death, although nearly half of the participants told their wish of independent living, they had concerns for living by themselves and needed supports to do so. From the data related to the mental health conditions, results of the K10 indicated that 35.6% of the participants scored higher than the cut-off score, indicating possibilities of having mood/anxiety disorders. Additionally, results of the PRIME-Screen Revised revealed that 20.3% of participants were assessed as “positive” about having prodromal symptoms of psychosis. 14.1% of the participants scored higher than the cut-off score of the K10 and rated “positive” in the PRIME-Screen Revised.

Conclusions:  The results indicated that Japanese adults with ASD have a number of concerns and needs for community living. Many of them want to have an independent life; however, they also realize numerous difficulties and the needs of supports. Levels of intellectual functioning and education would not alleviate such problems in the cases of ASD. Additionally, mental health condition could be an another concern. Many of these populations may need to deal not only with their own ASD specific traits, but also with other mental health conditions in their adulthood. The issues regarding availability of community-based services for adults with ASD should be examined thoroughly and resolved immediately to assure their quality of life.