Virtually nothing is known about older adults (>50 years of age) with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). With the aging of the U.S. population and recent recognition of the high prevalence of ASD, it is likely that in the near future, older adults with ASD will impose a tremendous burden on the healthcare system and society.
In Aim 1 of this pilot, exploratory study, we propose to access the National Core Indicators database in North Carolina, to systematically examine rates of medical/behavioral problems, level of function, support and service utilization in, perhaps the most vulnerable older individuals with ASD,~ 100 older adults with ASD and intellectual disability (ID), in comparison to ~ 1000 non-ASD, older adults with ID. Whereas Aim 1 casts a broad but shallow net, in Aim 2, we propose a much more detailed examination of behavioral patterns and diagnoses, medical conditions, level of function, support, access to care and quality of life in 40 older adults with ASD in comparison to 40 non-ASD older adult controls. The overarching aim of this study is to obtain preliminary data for a future comprehensive study of older adults with ASD, informing future clinical practice, policy and training.
Although research on autism has increased dramatically over the last 10 years, there has been no research on older (>50 years of age) adults with autism and consequently virtually nothing is known about this group of individuals. With the aging of the U.S. population and recent recognition of the high prevalence of autism, it is likely that in the near future, older adults with autism will impose a tremendous burden on the healthcare system and society. This study will examine behavioral characteristics;medical, neurological and psychiatric conditions;level of function;community support;access to care and quality of life in older adults with autism to ultimately inform future clinical practice, public policy and training f the work force.