Prospective Memory and Quality of Life in Older Adults with Autism.

Thursday, May 11, 2017: 11:30 AM
Yerba Buena 8 (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
A. Roestorf1, S. B. Gaigg2, P. Howlin3, C. Povey4 and D. M. Bowler2, (1)Psychology, City University London, London, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, (2)Psychology, City, University of London, London, United Kingdom, (3)King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, London, UNITED KINGDOM, (4)The National Autistic Society, London, UNITED KINGDOM
Background: Prospective memory (PM) is ‘remembering-to-remember’, or remembering to do something in the future (Brandimonte et al., 1996). In neurotypically ageing (NT) adults, PM is crucial to healthy and independent ageing (d’Ydewalle et al., 2001; Henry et al., 2004) and is a significant factor in preventing age-related memory decline (Maylor, 1996), as well as being one of the most important predictors of quality of life (QoL) (Woods, 2015). PM can involve event-based (EBPM) remembering supported by external referencing cues, and time-based (TBPM) remembering which is reliant on internal self-referencing.

Limited research on PM in ASD has been conducted with children and young adults, using computerised and pseudo-naturalistic paradigms in lab settings. PM studies with ASD adults report variable difficulties in intention formation, rule adherence and everyday memory, compared to non-autistic adults (Altgassen et al., 2012; 2013; Williams et al., 2014). However, the majority of these studies combined EBPM/TBPM assessment in single tasks, involving social demands – remembering something related to someone else (e.g. experimenter), which may have disadvantaged autistic adults to a greater extent than non-autistic individuals.

Objectives: This is the first ASD-related study evaluating the role of social motivation (self-relevant vs other-relevant) in lab-based and truly naturalistic settings and age-related differences in PM, everyday functioning and QoL.

Methods: Forty-nine adults with a diagnosis of ASD and 38 NT adults in a comparison group matched on age (19-80 years) and IQ (>70, mean 115, SD 14) are involved in 4 within-group studies in this extended programme of work. Studies 1 and 2 evaluate (1) EBPM and (2) TBPM ability as separate tasks embedded in a computerised lexical decision paradigm in a lab setting. Studies 3 and 4 explore (3) EBPM and (4) TBPM for (3a, 4a) self-relevant and (3b, 4b) other-relevant tasks in a naturalistic environment, during the course of everyday activities such as participants having to remember to phone in information in a given number of days' time. QoL was measured by WHOQoL-BREF.

Results: Preliminary analyses show the ASD group made fewer accurate but slower PM responses (p<.001) under increased demands of an ongoing lexical decision task (p<.05). Moreover, PM difficulties were highly correlated with poorer physical quality of life in the ASD group (p<.001). The studies are ongoing and our full data will be available by March 2016. Our predictions are based on our recent Ageing with Autism work (Roestorf & Bowler, 2016).

We predict: (i) poorer TBPM than EBPM in all ASDs; (ii) impaired EBPM in all ASDs compared to TD comparison groups; (iii) poorer TBPM in younger ASDs compared to TDs but (iv) no differences between the older ASD-TD groups; and (v) no group differences in ‘self-relevant’ task performance, but (vi) impaired ‘other-relevant’ task performance in ASDs compared to TDs.

Conclusions: Our findings will enhance our understanding of the role of age-related differences in QoL and different types of PM autistic adults, thus informing the challenges and benefits of growing older with autism.