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Keywords:

  • ASD;
  • Asperger's syndrome;
  • autism spectrum disorder;
  • outcome measures;
  • quality of life;
  • validity

Abstract

Background  Compared with other conditions there has been a lack of focus on quality of life (QoL) as an outcome measure for children and young people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This pilot study aimed to evaluate the validity of existing QoL questionnaires for use with children with ASD aged 8–12 years.

Methods  A literature review (1990–2011) identified the PedsQL (Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory) and Kidscreen as robust measures used with children with neurodevelopmental disorders. These measures were completed by 10 children and 11 parents. In addition semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 parents and four children to explore their experience of completing the QoL questionnaires.

Results  Young people with ASD, and their parents, report lower child QoL compared with a normative sample. Framework analysis of the data highlighted six key themes which may affect the validity of generic QoL measures when administered within an ASD sample and which warrant further investigation.

Conclusions  Our results indicate that a new condition-specific measure of QoL, grounded in ASD children's own perspectives of their lives, is needed and that such a measure should assess experiences of anxiety and access to special interests when measuring QoL of children with ASD. Active involvement of young people and their families is critical for the development of a theoretical framework for QoL within ASD, and any future development of an ASD-specific measure.