Aging with autism

Joav Merrick, Joav Merrick, Ditza Zachor, Isack Kandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Leo Kanner (1894-1981) and Hans Asperger (1906-1980) were the first to diagnose autism in 1943-1944. Diagnostic criteria have since been changed and expanded resulting in an increase in diagnosed cases. Most of the research so far has been with children and adolescents and very few studies have been concerned with the long-term or natural outcome results of autism. Such studies are important for families, but also for administrators, planners and service providers as well as clinicians in order to provide the best available service for this aging population. A literature review revealed basically three centers (St George's Hospital Medical School in London, Queen Silvia Children's Hospital in Gottenburg and Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), which have conducted long-term follow-up studies. Outcome data showed that intellectual level measured in childhood was a predictive factor for later outcome as to level of independence in adulthood. A majority of the people followed showed dependence upon family and care staff into adulthood and health problems usually related to associated medical conditions with a higher mortality in the group with many associated disorders. Epilepsy was found in 15-38% of the persons at follow-up, which was a much higher prevalence that in the general population. More research is needed to describe the health problems in this population in order to provide information for both families and service providers as this population age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal on Disability and Human Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Autism
  • Israel
  • aging
  • health
  • health utilization
  • parents
  • siblings


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