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Saturday, February 4, 2023

Autistic Adults, Unhappiness, and Politics

In The Politics of Autism, I write:  "Support from the general public will be an important political asset for autistic people. Another will be their sheer numbers, since a larger population of identified autistic adults will mean more autistic voters and activists."

At the  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, China I. Parenteau and colleagues have an article titled "Self-reported Everyday Sources of Happiness and Unhappiness in Autistic Adults." A total of 293 autistic adults between the ages of 18 to 35 provided open-text responses regarding everyday sources of happiness and unhappiness. Conclusion: "Overall, the wide range of sources of happy and unhappy everyday experiences highlights the importance of considering personal preferences in engagement with others and activities in treatment."  The study also mentioned the role of political events:

Though COVID-19 had not yet been declared a worldwide pandemic at the time of the survey (March 2020), it nonetheless was a source of unhappiness for many participants given the news coverage and increasing cases. The state of US politics was also mentioned quite frequently. This was reflected in their survey responses with the assigned codes “COVID-19” and “Politics” (e.g., “I am especially frustrated with the world’s governments response to this novel virus” (34-year-old woman; 28); “I am currently extremely unsatisfied with the two major candidates for president” (24-year-old woman; ID 287)).


Besides the COVID-19 pandemic, adults on the autism spectrum also identified current political events as sources of unhappiness. This highlights the need for clinical providers to consider the broader societal contexts autistic individuals live in and the potential impact current events might have on their mood and mental health.