Autism aging

Gerontol Geriatr Educ. 2019 Jul-Sep;40(3):322-338. doi: 10.1080/02701960.2016.1247073. Epub 2016 Nov 21.


Many people perceive autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a childhood disorder, yet ASD is a lifelong condition. Although little is known about the mental and physical health issues of aging individuals with ASD, there are increasing numbers of older adults being diagnosed with ASD. Although there has been a recent "call to action" (to address lack of knowledge and the dearth of services and programs for aging individuals with autism, the authors think it is also important for those who are involved in educational programs related to gerontology and geriatrics settings to be aware of "autism aging." This term conceptualizes the demographics, person and contextual factors, and intellectual awareness of the trends and patterns of ASD as a life course challenge and opportunity for well-being and quality of life. The purposes of this article are to (1) provide a general overview of autism issues and to examine several dimensions of ASD in the context of the emergent and relevant scholarship in the adult and aging domain, (2) propose how to address the "gap" in the literature on autism and aging in terms of a conceptual model and by improving the methodology, and (3) to discuss the implications of these dimensions for educators in gerontology and geriatrics, and for those professionals who work in clinical and health care services. It is the goal of the authors to have this article represent a general introduction to ASD and to be a part of the foundation for educational awareness for educators in gerontology and geriatrics.

Keywords: Autism; aging; education.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / economics
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Awareness
  • Geriatrics / education*
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Socioeconomic Factors