4. Quality of life in autism

Goal: With this project we aimed to show that considering atypical development as an adaptive response to a system of factors can advance our understanding of how these different atypical profiles arise and how they, in turn, impact QoL throughout the lifespan. Similarly, advances in modelling development enable us to ask a novel set of questions concerned with how atypical cognitive characteristics might interact over time.

Results: This project has illustrated what novel insights can be gained from modelling atypical development as a phenomenon that arises from interactions among observable processes. We outlined several data-driven analytic approaches to various levels of atypical development and outcome. Our results provoked more fine-grained hypotheses about the importance of specific tributaries within a system. We have shown that conceptualizing atypical development as a multivariate system and analyzing it as such has multiple benefits for both, the scientific and the clinical field. In the first two chapters of the resulting thesis, for example, we have provided a detailed mapping of the multivariate system of factors contributing to how happy autistic adults are (see Deserno et al., 2015 and Deserno et al., 2017). We have explored this output regarding its congruence with expert ratings and its longitudinal workings in two subsequent articles (under review) and have also taken a more abstract detour evaluating what information one can get from focusing on different levels of the system in Deserno et al., 2017.