Do ASD Adults Become Happier When Older?

Thursday, May 11, 2017: 11:10 AM
Yerba Buena 8 (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
H. M. Geurts, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS
Background: Given the lack of knowledge regarding older ASD adults, researchers, ASD adults, and their relatives agreed that we need to study what the future holds for those with ASD. This is especially important as life-span subjective well-being is reported to be low. Most earlier studies did not include older individuals with ASD (i.e., >50 years) and were cross-sectional in nature. Moreover, several factors (e.g., ASD-severity, IQ, comorbidity) are thought to be relevant to subjective well-being, but the interaction among potentially relevant factors is often ignored. Recently we showed that focusing on the multivariate pattern of these factors is needed to enhance our understanding of subjective well-being in ASD.

Objectives: First, to provide an overview of a series of recent cross-sectional studies in which we focused on subjective well-being in ASD adults. Second, to explore longitudinally the (interaction of) predictors of change in subjective well-being in mid- and old-aged ASD adults.

Methods: A total of 122 (80 males) mid- and old-aged ASD adults (M=53.8, range 31-80 years) were assessed 1 to 4 years (M=3.1 years; T2) after they participated in a large cross-sectional study (T1; Lever & Geurts, 2016). For this abstract, we conducted an exploratory regression analyses with self-reported ASD-symptomatology (AQ), comorbid symptomatology (SCL-90), and educational level at T1 as predictors of change in subjective well-being (WHO-QoL short version, four scales). Please note that network analyses are the planned analyses in which psychotropic medication use (yet to be scored) and occupational status (yet to be scored) will also be included as network factors.

Results: When focusing on the change score (T2-T1) there are large individual differences. Depending on the WHO-QoL subscale 16 to 24% do have a similar score at both time-points. Individuals showing an increase or a decrease were equally prevalent. The exploratory regression models explained hardly any variance, and none of the predictors were statistically significant.

Conclusions: The subjective well-being in mid- and old-aged ASD adults is lower when compared to those without ASD and often changes with age. However, the directionality of these changes differs across individuals. Although, the reported analyses are preliminary, so far the tentative conclusion is that ASD-, comorbid symptomatology, and one’s educational level do not seem to be relevant factors to predict the observed change. The results of the aforementioned network analyses will be discussed, as well as alternative predictors.