Autism in adulthood: improving the future

Published on April 28, 2021   45 min

A selection of talks on Neurology

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My name is Patricia Howlin. I'm a Emeritus Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London. What I wanted to do today in this talk was examine how we might begin to improve the future for adults with autism.
What I'm going to do throughout the course of the talk is explore what we know about outcome in adulthood for people with autism, look at evidence for predictors or factors that may lead to a better or poor outcome. I'll discuss a little about interventions for adults with autism and finish by looking at what we need to do in terms of improving research and services generally to improve outcome for adults on the autism spectrum.
Despite the fact there's been a dramatic rise in the numbers of individuals diagnosed with autism over recent decades, there's still being relatively little research on adults. For example, although there are recent studies suggesting the rates of autism in children may be as high as one in 68, that figure is from the US, a study sometime ago, looking at published papers on adulthood, find that although there were many thousands of papers covering autism across the age spectrum, there was very, very little on adults and almost nothing at all on older people with autism.
What do we know about the life stages of individuals with autism? Well, we know a great deal now about autism in young children and into adolescence. There's been many improvements in ways to reliably diagnose the condition, and we know a lot more about effective treatments and educational methods that can help to improve lives. There's much less known about people with autism in middle age and almost nothing at all known about autism in older people.