Methods: A total of 75 verbal individuals with ASD, aged 16-45, participated in the study. Each participant was administered well-validated measures of social impairment, social communication, cognitive functioning, and social adjustment. Participants were also administered a well-validated questionnaire that measured quality of life in five major domains: overall quality of life, physical health, psychological, social relationships, and environment. A series of general linear models were used to examine the associations between the social, behavioral, and cognitive measures and self-reported quality of life.
Results: Better social adjustment was significantly associated with greater overall quality of life (β =-.33, p = .004). Unexpectedly, greater social impairment was also associated with greater overall quality of life (β = .23, p = .040). Social communication had a significant positive association with better quality of life in the psychological domain (β = .33, p = .005). Cognitive functioning had a significant negative association with quality of life in the social relationships domain (β = -.26, p = .024). A strong curvilinear relationship was found between social adjustment and quality of life in the environment domain (β = 2.15, p = .003), indicating that individuals at the extremes of social adjustment (both lower and higher) reported better quality of life.
Conclusions and Implications: Findings suggest that some of the core characteristics of ASD may substantially impact quality of life experiences for adolescents and adults living with the disorder. More research should be done to further investigate correlates of quality of life in this population. A greater understanding of the impact of ASD characteristics on quality of life can help researchers develop, improve, and widen the availability of beneficial supports and services for adolescents and adults with ASD.