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Intelligence, Behavior Play Large Role in Adulthood for People With Autism

Intelligence quotient (IQ) and behavioral problems are two factors in childhood that predict how well people with autism will function as adults. Being able to predict adult outcomes could help clinicians offer targeted treatments to children with autism, improving their chances of a better life. Catherine Lord, a professor of psychiatry and education at the University of California, explained that for people with a low IQ, “the chances of being independent are very, very slim.” With her colleagues, Lord compiled data on 123 people with autism. The participants were evaluated during childhood, many before the age of three, and were re-evaluated when they were 22 to 27 years old. The evaluations were based on several factors, including the severity of autism traits, IQ, and behavioral problems. In adulthood, the participants were evaluated based on their quality of life, with the most successful being adults who lived independently, had a job, and maintained multiple friendships. The study found that the people with the highest quality of life had relatively high IQs and few behavioral problems, while participants with low IQs and severe behavioral problems struggled the most. Those with either a low IQ or significant behavioral problems, but not both, fell between both extremes. As noted in a report by Spectrum News, the study highlights the importance of providing autistic children with educational support that is suited to their needs. Lord explained that there is an increasing push to focus on “adaptive” skills, such as getting dressed, following rules, and knowing when to go to the doctor. Inge-Marie Eigisti, professor of psychological sciences at the University of Connecticut, noted that people with autism have many of the same priorities as their neurotypical peers. “They want relationships, they want to have a friend or a close friend or two, and very often they want a romantic relationship,” Eigsti says. “And they want to have meaningful work.” Source: https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/intelligence-behavior-shape-adulthood-for-people-with-autism/

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