SPARK Adult Mental Health and Service Study

Poor mental health is an urgent concern for adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), contributing to increased risk for suboptimal long-term outcomes. Depression is particularly prevalent, with reported rates of lifetime diagnosis as high as 70%. With a major lack of data on long-term depression trajectories and possible effects of life changes, it is essential to follow these adults longitudinally to understand how depression manifests in adults with ASD over time. Given that there are constant changes in people’s lives, understanding whether and how the change might have an impact on the lives of young adults with ASD and how they are adjusting to the changes. Specifically, the changes over a longer period of time could help understand the stability of depressive symptoms in adults with ASD, and the longitudinal effects of life changes over time. In turn, the findings might provide information and guidance on how different life factors interact with each other and identify potential treatment targets that could help improve the well-being of individuals.

Aims of the study: 

  1. Understand the trajectories of depression and depressive symptoms among young adults with ASD over time;
  2. Explore the long-term casual relationships between life experiences, such as relationship, employment, social interests and habits, and depressive symptoms among adults with ASD;
  3. Investigate the effect of reported community service receipt and disruption on depressive symptoms over time.
Project Contact: Shuting Zheng, PhD., [email protected]