Quantifying the Contribution of Specific Autistic Traits to Quality of Life in Autistic Adults

Florence Y N Leung, Lucy Anne Livingston, David Mason, Punit Shah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Across research studies, autistic traits have consistently been found to predict the quality of life (QoL) of autistic adults. However, our understanding of their exact role remains limited, as autistic traits are typically examined as a unitary construct, with their multidimensional nature being largely overlooked. The present study examined the relative contribution of specific autistic trait domains – social anxiety, mentalising difficulties, and sensory reactivity – to QoL in autistic adults. Participants (N = 300) completed clinically relevant measures of their autistic traits (i.e., RAADS-14) and QoL (i.e., WHOQOL-BREF and ASQoL), and provided socio-demographic details. Results showed that the consistent presence of social anxiety and mentalising difficulties across development, but not sensory reactivity, significantly predicted poorer QoL, even after accounting for one another and potential confounders. Comparing their relative importance, social anxiety emerged as the most dominant predictor of QoL amongst all variables, followed by mentalising difficulties. These findings provide evidence for the divergent contributions of autistic trait domains to QoL, adding nuance to our understanding of factors relating to autistic adults’ QoL. Overall, this study underscores the importance of considering individual differences in autistic trait profiles when designing individualised support programmes, such as prioritising attention to the presence of social anxiety and mentalising difficulties, to enhance the QoL of autistic adults.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Journal Neurodiversity
Early online date11 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Jun 2024

Data Availability Statement

The data and R code for analyses are accessible in the Supplemental Material.

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