Quality of life of school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder: factors that predict parents' perspective
University of New Brunswick
Quality of life among children is a multidimensional construct that encompasses social, emotional, school, and physical well-being, and is influenced by both individual and contextual factors (Kuhlthau et al., 2013; WHO, 1995). The current study evaluated the quality of life of school-aged children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as perceived by their parent. To address limitations of previous work, global and domain-specific quality of life, variation across domains, and variation in ratings by the child’s age and gender were explored. Consistent with a bioecological framework, both individual (i.e., ASD symptom severity, maladaptive behaviours, adaptive skills, and grit) and contextual (i.e., parent mental health, sibling type, school type, reciprocal friendship, and leisure) factors were assessed in predicting quality of life. In addition to direct relationships, potential indirect relationships between specific individual and contextual factors and higher quality of life were examined. Data were collected online, internationally, from 152 parents of children ages 8 to 11 years old with ASD. Global and domain-specific quality of life were found to be lower compared to published normative data. Physical quality of life was higher than social, school, and emotional quality of life and school quality of life was higher than social quality of life. Neither the child’s age nor gender was significantly associated with quality of life. Symptoms of ASD, maladaptive behaviours, and adaptive skills predicted social quality of life; maladaptive behaviours and adaptive skills predicted emotional quality of life; maladaptive behaviours, adaptive skills, and grit predicted school quality of life; and maladaptive behaviours and adaptive skills predicted physical quality of life. No support was found for indirect relationships. Implications for understanding and improving quality of life among school-aged children with ASD are discussed.