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Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012 May;21(5):289-96. doi: 10.1007/s00787-012-0263-z. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

Quality of life of adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: comparison to adolescents with diabetes.

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Centre Universitaire de Pédopsychiatrie, CHRU de Tours, Université François Rabelais de Tours, Cedex, France.


Relationships are of great importance during adolescence. Because of their social, communication and behavioral impairments, adolescents with Asperger's syndrome (AS) or high functioning autism (HFA) probably suffer from considerable impairment of their quality of life when facing their peers in school. Nevertheless, only one recent study has been published on this subject, indicating a lower health-related quality of life in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) than in healthy controls. The goals of our study were to clarify the consequences of autistic disorder without mental retardation on such adolescents' daily lives, and to consider them in comparison with the impact of a chronic somatic disease (diabetes) and with the period of adolescence itself, using the VSP-A questionnaire. Adolescents with diabetes were chosen as a comparison group because of the encumbrance of having a constant need for insulin supplementation, to be assimilated to the constant need for communicative adjustments in teenagers with ASD, and the consequences in daily life. The effects of social skill training and social support on quality of life and the appropriateness of using the VSP-A in this population were also studied. Twenty-six adolescents with AS and HFA, 44 diabetic adolescents, and 250 controls completed a self-administered and validated questionnaire on quality of life, the VSP-A. Scores for adolescents with ASD were significantly lower than those of the control and the diabetic adolescents, especially for friendships, leisure time, and affective and sexual relationships. On the other hand, better scores were obtained for the relationships with parents and teachers and for self-image. Social parameters affected the quality of life of subjects with ASD, such as having friends, regularly participating in a sport, and having the support of a school carer. For subjects with autistic spectrum disorders and without mental retardation, impairment of quality of life is significant in adolescence and young adulthood. Such adolescents are dissatisfied with their relationships, although they often have real motivation to succeed with them. Relevance of VSP-A questionnaire in these special individuals is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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