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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Using Strengths

In The Politics of Autism, I write:

Many analyses of autism speak as if it were only a childhood ailment and assume that parents are the main stakeholders. But most children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, and they suffer uniquely high levels of social isolation. Almost 40 percent of youth with an autism spectrum disorder never get together with friends, and 50 percent of never receive phone calls from friends. These figures are higher than for peers with intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, or learning disability. When school ends, many adults with autism have grim prospects. Though evidence is sparse, it seems that most do not find full-time jobs. Compared with other people their age, they have higher rates of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and suicide attempts.

 At Autism, Emily C. Taylor and colleagues have an article titled "Psychological strengths and well-being: Strengths use predicts quality of life, well-being and mental health in autism."  The lay abstract:

It is often suggested that supporting autistic people to identify and use their strengths will lead to positive outcomes. However, little research has explored if this is true. To date, no research has explored whether autistic people already have knowledge of and use their strengths, nor whether increased strengths knowledge and use is linked to good outcomes, such as a better quality of life, well-being and improved mental health. Comparing large samples of autistic and non-autistic people, this study tested these unanswered questions. We found that autistic and non-autistic people reported similar strengths, but autistic people reported less knowledge and use of their strengths compared to non-autistic people. Importantly however, autistic people who reported using their strengths often had better quality of life, well-being and mental health than autistic people who reported using their strengths less frequently. We, therefore, propose that supporting autistic people to use their strengths more often may be a valuable way to boost well-being in this population.