What do older autistic adults feel are the most important factors that have assisted them in maintaining their own physical and mental well-being

JENNIFER KIRTON, Angela Tod, Tony Ryan

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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    Abstract

    Title

    What do older autistic adults feel are the most important factors that have assisted them in maintaining their own physical and mental well-being?


    Abstract
    Rationale
    There is only a handful of studies that presents findings from research with older autistic adults, as much of the current research is focussed on children and and proxy accounts. Moreover, as autism is a relatively new diagnostic category it is only in recent years that the number of older adults with a diagnosis has increased. Indeed recommendations have been made to ensure that there is further research into adults with ASC.
    It is estimated by the National Autistic Society that approximately 1% (600,000) of children and adults in the UK population have ASC. If we follow this through and recognize that autism is a lifelong disability, it means that approximately 1% of the older adult population (aged 65+) will also have ASC. Using current population estimates from the Office of National Statistics approximately 14,400 over 65s have ASC and this is set to rise to 35,000 by 2035.
    Background
    This research is a grounded theory study using in-depth qualitative interviews to explore the life experiences of older autistic adults. The life experiences of older autistic adults are a rich source of valuable information that provide insight into autism across the lifespan and how autistic individuals adapt to older age.
    Specifically this project explored the perspectives of these older adults on how autism has had an impact on their lives and how they have coped/adapted to situations, what they feel has helped them, what they feel has disadvantaged them and how they feel they have changed over time.

    Methods
    Ten older autistic adults (aged 50+) took part in the research. An initial in depth unstructured interview was conducted with each person. .Thematic analysis was then conducted on the transcript and then a second interview was conducted to discuss themes identified and to ensure clarity of researcher understanding and gain further information on points of particular interest.

    Main points

    Insights have been shared in regards to health, wellbeing (both physical and mental), education, access to services, social groups, diagnosis, special interests, home administration and daily living amongst others. Thoughts were also shared on growing older and what would be suitable support in older age.

    Conclusion:

    It is clear that we have much to learn about autism from the individuals that have a lifetime worth of experience living as autistic.
    (N.B. data collection for this project is ongoing but will be completed by august 2018)


    Author Jennifer A Kirton, T Ryan, A Todd
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2018
    EventScottish Autism Conference: Innovation in autism practice:the future is calling - Glasgow
    Duration: 8 Nov 20189 Nov 2018

    Conference

    ConferenceScottish Autism Conference
    Period8/11/189/11/18

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