Social Support Research
Oct. 19, 2022
When we were developing our programming, we had to base most of our assumptions about quality of life for adults with autism on research done with neurotypical populations from various backgrounds. However, with the 178% increase in the prevalence of autism in children since 2000, the increase in the number of adults has followed. As this “tsunami” of children with autism have aged to adulthood, a new body of research is emerging looking at best practices in services for this population across the life span. Charlton, R. A., McQuaid, G. A., & Wallace, G. L. (2022). Social support and links to quality of life among middle-aged and older autistic adults. Autism, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/13623613221081917 is one such study. Showing the importance of social support for adults with autism, this growing body of research is helping to reinforce the importance of socially inclusive programming. Social supports are established through connections created during community activities and are impeded by isolated or segregated programming.
Chick-Fil-A has a commercial about the bond that was created between one of their employees and an adult with autism who comes in regularly to eat. While the commercial is meant to sell fast food, it illustrates our point. A short, common occurrence in the community led to a meaningful relationship for both individuals. If the adult with autism had opted to eat at home or in a segregated setting with other individuals with disabilities, this opportunity for a social support relationship would have been missed. This social support connection increases the quality of life for both the employee and the adult with autism. Regardless of functioning level, everyone has the Ability to Matter in their community.