Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Barbara J. Myers, PhD

Second Advisor

Paul Wehman, PhD

Third Advisor

Terri Sullivan, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Norman Geller, PhD

Fifth Advisor

Geraldine Lotze, PhD

Sixth Advisor

Adam Sima, PhD


This study is focused on exploring quality of life in young adults in the autism spectrum and the factors that contribute to their own perception of satisfaction with their lives. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disability that is associated with deficits in social interaction and communication and with restricted and repetitive behaviors (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). There has been a documented increase in the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), making it to be one of the fastest growing diagnosed disabilities in children (Hartley-McAndrew, 2014). In the United States, the prevalence of ASD is approximately 1 in 68 children, with 1 in 42 among boys (CDC, 2014). With this increase in recognition of the disorder, adult outcomes have become an increasing priority for this population. While the concept of quality of life has been used in the field of intellectual disabilities for decades, the factors contributing to quality of life of persons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have received relatively little attention. The aim of this study was to examine the influences of degree of disability, social and communication ability, academic success, employment, and independence and autonomy on quality of life in young adults with high-functioning autism. Participants (N @ 230) were individuals from the dataset of the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 (NLTS2) who had a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (Cameto, et al., 2004). Results indicated that employment, social involvement, communication (being able to communicate, converse, and understand), and autonomy were significant in predicting higher quality of life. Factors found not to contribute to QoL included degree of disability (Woodcock-Johnson III) and education. This study helps to shed light on the development of higher quality of life in young adults with ASD and highlights areas for future research and training with these members of society.


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