Essential Needs of Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Quality of Life for adults with autism always starts with dignity and respect for each person, but in addition, there are also specific needs for an adult on the autism spectrum that must be met to ensure a good quality of life.
Dr. Susan Bryson wrote about the central needs of adults with autism and the essential qualities that need to be part of any services and supports for adults with autism to ensure a quality life. She summarizes the major needs of people with autism as:
- The need to communicate wants and desires and to interact meaningfully with others;
- The need for highly structured, predictable and familiar surroundings;
- The need for work and recreational-leisure activities to give meaning to existence and provide a sense of accomplishment and being valued by others;
- The need for a safe and caring place of residence chosen from options along a continuum of residential services;
- The need for adequate and sensitive health services;
- The need for advocates to ensure that rights and needs are respected and not violated, and that existing services are appropriate and adequate for each individual.
Regarding quality of life issues, the declaration by The Autism and Asperger's Syndrome Independent Living Association (whose majority membership are adults with autism) states:
Measuring “quality” assures standards that exceed current professional practice and calls for periodic redefinition of "best practices." Any measurement of quality should consider "the satisfaction and preferences of the individual with autism and Asperger's Syndrome first and foremost and the satisfactions of family, friends and advocates as secondary." Supports and services for people on the autism spectrum are said to have quality when:
They are designed with maximum control by people with autism and Asperger's Syndrome;
- They would be acceptable to people without disabilities;
- They are delivered in settings people without disabilities would use;
- They are individualized and relevant to individual needs;
- They are changed as the needs of individuals change;
- They are adequately funded;
- They help people develop maximum independence;
- They respect the dignity and privacy of individuals.