A quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

The Autism Research Review International is quarterly publication of the Autism Research Institute

Spring, 2023 | Number 2, Volume 36

Study shows benefits of learning ASD diagnosis early in life

People who learn early in life that they have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may have a greater sense of well-being than those who learn that they have the condition later in life, according to a new study. 

Tomisin Oredipe and colleagues surveyed 78 autistic university students, asking them to describe how and when they learned they were autistic, how they felt when they received their diagnoses, and how they currently felt about their lives and about being autistic. The researchers found that students who learned they were autistic at a young age had a better quality of life and a greater sense of well-being in adulthood compared to those who were diagnosed at an older age. 

Study coauthor Bella Kofner says, “This is the first study, to our knowledge, to demonstrate that learning at a young age that one is autistic may have positive impacts on emotional health among autistic university students. Hopefully, this finding may begin to address concerns parents have about when to talk to their child about autism. ‘When’ the conversation begins is particularly important. Our findings suggest that learning at a younger age that one is autistic can help autistic people develop self-understanding and access support, providing the foundations for well-being in adulthood.” 

The researchers note, however, that those who learned they were autistic at an older age also felt empowered by this knowledge. Study coauthor Steven Kapp says, “Learning about autism at an older age is associated with more positive emotions about a diagnosis—especially relief.”


Citations

“Does learning you are autistic at a younger age lead to better adult outcomes? A participatory exploration of the perspectives of autistic university students,” Tomisin Oredipe, Bella Kofner, Ariana Riccio, Eilidh Cage, Jonathan Vincent, Steven K. Kapp, Patrick Dwyer, and Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, Autism, April 2022 (online). Address: Kristen Gillespie-Lynch, College of Staten Island, The City University of New York, 2800 Victory Boulevard 4s-103, Staten Island, NY 10314, [email protected]

—and— 

“Study suggests early self-awareness of autism leads to better quality of life,” news release, University of Portsmouth, April 26, 2022.