The Life Project of People with Autism and Intellectual Disability: Investigating Personal Preferences and Values to Enhance Self-Determination

Psychiatr Danub. 2023 Dec;35(Suppl 3):17-23.


People with autism and intellectual disabilities, much like individuals with typical development, share a fundamental right and aspiration to realise their own life projects. However, this natural pursuit is uniquely challenging for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities due to their communication and adaptive hurdles. This growing need has prompted the development of a specific procedure for crafting life projects geared toward enhancing their quality of life. In the present work, we will describe the six key steps and the corresponding assessment, support, and verification tools essential for establishing and actualising the life project for individuals with disabilities, as conceptualised by the Italian Society of Neurodevelopmental Disorders (SIDIN). We will start by delineating diverse preference and value assessment procedures, showcasing an array of tools tailored to accommodate the distinct characteristics of adaptive and communicative functioning in individuals with disabilities. Following this, we will provide a succinct overview of support needs assessment tools. Subsequently, we will introduce the Ecological Life Balance, which serves as an integrative tool for harmonising various assessment systems. We will propose methods for defining existential goals that prioritise quality of life and suggest strategies for implementing support plans. Lastly, we will delve into the methodologies for monitoring and verifying outcomes in the final section.

Keywords: autism - intellectual disability - life project - preferences and values.

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder*
  • Communication
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability*
  • Quality of Life