Loneliness in adults on the autism spectrum

Published November 2019


Loneliness is associated with adverse psychological and physical outcomes. However, little is known about the factors contributing to loneliness in autistic adults. This study aimed to quantitatively compare levels and predictors of loneliness in autistic and nonautistic adults, and then contextualize these findings by thematically analyzing responses to open-ended questions on autistic adults' socialization experiences. We obtained data from the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC) Australian Longitudinal Study of Adults with Autism (ALSAA). The sample comprised 220 autistic adults (age mean [M] = 41.9 years, standard deviation [SD] = 12.24) and 146 nonautistic adults (age M = 43.7 years, SD = 13.49). We measured loneliness with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) loneliness scale (ULS-8). Autistic adults have reported higher levels of loneliness. Variables associated with loneliness in both groups were dissatisfaction with social support and the autism quotient subdomain of social skills. The subjectivity of perceived loneliness, views about socialization, and their implications for social support in autistic adults warrant further study.
Ee, D., Hwang, Y.I., Reppermund, S., Srasuebkul, P., Trollor, J.N.., Foley, K-R. & Arnold, S.R.C. (2019). Loneliness in adults on the autism spectrum, Autism in Adulthood, 1(3), 182-193. doi: 10.1089/aut.2018.0038

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