Thinking differently? Autism and quality of life

Smith, Suzanne Jane; Powell, Jane E.; Summers, Neil and Roulstone, Susan (2019). Thinking differently? Autism and quality of life. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 24(2) pp. 68–76.


Purpose:The purpose of this paper is to explore perceptions of quality of life (QoL) of people with a dual diagnosis of learning disability and autism to facilitate a better understanding for clinical practice and service provision.

Design/methodology/approach: Mixed methods were used to gain perceptions of QoL from 20 individuals referred to their local diagnostic service. Individuals completed questionnaires and participated in in-depth interviews which were thematically analysed.

Findings: Subjective wellbeing scores were lower than those found in previous research. Social interaction was raised extensively with participants describing both positive and negative perceptions. The need for tailored social support and the value of individual control over environment were raised.

Research limitations/implications: The study was small in scale and limited to subjects who had been referred for a diagnostic service. The study identified the need for further investigation, particularly in relation to the social relationships domain of QoL, and the impact of stress and anxiety.

Originality/value: This study demonstrated that it is possible to access views from this group and that these views are nuanced. It suggests differences between reported QoL in people with learning disabilities who are and who are not autistic. Service design and individual approaches could be improved by a better understanding of these differences.

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