Predictors of mental health and well-being in employed adults with autism spectrum disorder at 12-month follow-up
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People with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) commonly experience poor outcomes in adulthood. Previous research on adult outcomes has focused on negative aspects of health and well-being, while positive well-being remains understudied. The current study charted 12-month change in daily living skills, job satisfaction, depression, anxiety, and positive well-being in 36 (32 male) newly employed adults with ASD aged 18 to 57 years who were participating in a supported employment program. There was a small increase in daily living skills, and a slight decrease in job satisfaction, with all other measures remaining stable over time. Regression analyses revealed that, controlling for baseline depression, positive well-being negatively predicted depression at follow-up. No significant predictors of anxiety were identified. Social support and depression at baseline were associated with positive well-being at follow-up; however, they were no longer significant predictors after the effects of baseline positive well-being were taken into account. The findings provide evidence that positive well-being may buffer against depression in people with ASD. Our finding of stability of mental health and well-being measures over time indicates more research is required to uncover the mechanisms underpinning mental health and well-being outcomes in employed adults with ASD. Autism Res 2019, 12: 482-494 © 2019 International Society for Autism Research, Wiley Periodicals, Inc. LAY SUMMARY: People with autism commonly experience poor outcomes in adulthood. We studied mental health and well-being in newly employed adults with autism who were participating in a supported employment program. Apart from a slight increase in daily living skills and a slight decrease in job satisfaction, other measures of mental health and well-being remained stable over time. Our findings suggest that positive well-being may protect against symptoms of depression in people with autism.
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