A Lifespan Approach to Patient-Reported Outcomes and Quality of Life for People on the Autism Spectrum

Autism Res. 2020 Jun;13(6):970-987. doi: 10.1002/aur.2275. Epub 2020 Mar 10.


Autistic self-advocates, family members, and community organizations have called for greater emphasis on enhancing quality of life (QoL) for people with autism. Doing this is critical to understand how QoL unfolds across the life course and to clarify whether gender affects QoL, health, and functioning for people with autism. The purpose of this study was to curate and test a lifespan QoL measurement tool using freely available and well-constructed National Institutes of Health Parent-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS). To develop the PROMIS Autism Battery-Lifespan (PAB-L), we identified PROMIS scales relevant for autism, reviewed each item, consulted with a panel of autism experts, and elicited feedback from autistic people and family members. This battery provides a comprehensive portrait of QoL for children ages 5-13 (through parent proxy), teens 14-17 (parent proxy and self-report), and adults 18-65 (self-report) with autism compared to the general population. Participants and parent informants (N = 912) recruited through a children's hospital and nationwide U.S. autism research registry completed the PAB-L online. Results indicate that compared to general population norms, people with autism of all ages (or their proxies) reported less desirable outcomes and lower QoL across all domains. Women and girls experienced greater challenges in some areas compared to men and boys with autism. The PAB-L appears to be a feasible and acceptable method for assessing patient-reported outcomes and QoL for autistic people across the life course. Autism Res 2020, 13: 970-987. © 2020 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: We developed a survey to measure the quality of life of children, teens, and adults with autism using free National Institutes of Health PROMIS questionnaires. People with autism and family members rated the PROMIS Autism Battery-Lifespan as useful and important. Some reported a good quality of life, while many reported that their lives were not going as well as they wanted. Women and girls reported more challenges in some areas of life than men and boys.

Keywords: adults; life course; life span/lifespan; patient-reported outcomes; quality of life; sex/gender; women with autism.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longevity*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Young Adult