Research Article
Issue Date: May/June 2021
Published Online: March 31, 2021
Updated: April 26, 2021
Quality-of-Life Discrepancies Among Autistic Adolescents and Adults: A Rapid Review
Author Affiliations
  • Emily C.Skaletski, MOT,OTR/L, is PhD Student, Occupational Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, University of Wisconsin–Madison; eskaletski@wisc.edu
  • Laura Bradley, MSEd, is Research Specialist, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Desiree Taylor, MSOT, is Research Assistant, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Brittany G.Travers, PhD, is Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy Program, Department of Kinesiology, and Investigator, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Lauren Bishop, PhD, MSW, is Assistant Professor, Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work, and Investigator, Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Article Information
Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder / Pediatric Evaluation and Intervention / Special Issue: Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 31, 2021
Quality-of-Life Discrepancies Among Autistic Adolescents and Adults: A Rapid Review
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 2021, Vol. 75, 7503180090. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.046391
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, March 2021, Vol. 75, 7503180090. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2021.046391
Abstract

Importance: Quality of life (QoL) is a core outcome of occupational therapy, but it is decreased among autistic adolescents and adults. This is the first review of QoL from an occupational therapy standpoint.

Objective: To identify self-reported QoL differences between autistic and nonautistic samples; investigate sex differences in QoL among autistic people; examine consistency in QoL among autistic people across age, intellectual disability (ID), and self- versus proxy-report method; and appraise occupational therapy–related interventions addressing QoL among autistic people.

Data Sources: Articles published in peer-reviewed journals between 2010 and 2020, located through Academic Search Ultimate, PubMed, and OTseeker, along with the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, British Journal of Occupational Therapy, Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, and Australian Occupational Therapy Journal.

Study Selection and Data Collection: Article samples consisted of at least 20% autistic females and used self-reported QoL measures. Qualitative research was excluded, as well as studies with participants younger than age 13 yr. Twenty-seven articles qualified (3 Level 1B, 13 Level 3B, and 11 Level 4).

Findings: Autistic adolescents and adults demonstrated decreased self-reported QoL compared with nonautistic peers across age and ID presence. One article compared sex differences in QoL among autistic people. Interventions improved QoL among autistic people.

Conclusions and Relevance: Autistic adolescents and adults demonstrate decreased QoL in comparison with nonautistic peers. Questions remain related to sex differences in QoL among autistic people, an area for future research. Multiple evidence-based approaches to improve QoL in the autistic population are relevant to occupational therapy practice.

What This Article Adds: Self-reported QoL among autistic adolescents and adults is clearly lower than among their nonautistic counterparts. This article provides information on multiple interventions related to occupational therapy to improve QoL among autistic people.