Researchers tracking children with autism into middle adulthood have found that the single most-important predictor of success is the mastery of self-care skills such as bathing, dressing, cleaning and cooking.
According to their analysis, these skills prove more important than language, intellectual ability or the severity of autism symptoms when it comes to maintaining employment and achieving life satisfaction.
The researchers presented the early findings of their study – funded by Autism Speaks and Foundation of Hope – at the International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR).
“Autism symptoms, language ability and intellectual function certainly contribute to adult outcomes,” says lead researcher Laura Klinger, of the University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Autism Program. “But the single most important predictor of adult employment turns out to be the basic skills of daily living.Being employed, in turn, is strongly related to adult quality of life.”
Dr. Klinger calls the results “tremendously hopeful.”
“We can’t necessarily change IQ or symptom severity,” she explains. “But we can teach daily living skills.”
Along these lines, Autism Speaks is funding the TEACCH program to develop and deliver programs that help teens with autism develop the skills they need for into adulthood and employment. (Learn more about these research and community grants here.)