What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Social relationships, including friendships and intimate relationships, are closely linked with overall health and wellbeing. Social relationships help to ward off depression and anxiety and increase self-esteem and satisfaction in life. Those with stronger social connections also experience better physical and mental health, and even live longer, than those who feel isolated.
While not all individuals with autism desire social relationships, many do, but may still experience social isolation due to lack of effective and accessible social skills services. Some individuals may feel unsure about how to handle the complexities of forming new relationships – for example, where and how to meet friends and how to have conversations with people. Some may not feel confident in their ability to read and respond appropriately to the social cues of other and fear rejection. Social anxiety or other anxiety disorders often get in the way of forming friendships for many people with autism. Regardless of the cause, many adults with ASD report loneliness, which has a substantial impact on longevity and overall wellbeing.
Dr. Laura Graham Holmes, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Autism Research, is interested in learning more about how individuals with autism approach relationships and their resulting quality of life. She is currently seeking parents of kids ages 5-17 years old with autism and teens and adults ages 14-65 years old with autism to participate in a survey to share how they feel about their quality of life. “I’m aiming to gain a better understanding of how to measure quality of life for youth and adults with autism, and what poses the greatest challenges for happiness and well-being. This will help us make sure that interventions and services are truly improving the lives of people on the spectrum based on people’s own goals and priorities, “says Dr. Holmes.