Promoting Successful Aging Through the Lifespan for Individuals with ASD and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
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Jonathan C. Baker, Ph.D., BCBA-D Presented at the 2019 Michigan Autism Conference
Abstract: As all people age through adulthood and into older adulthood, they experience unique opportunities and challenges such as shifts in their career, shifts in their life focus, shifts in their social networks, and age-related physical changes. An important theme among researchers in gerontology (the study of aging) is evaluating how these changes impact quality of life, or how happy someone is with their life. Indeed, a great deal of research and effort has gone into understanding how people can experience the opportunities and challenges of aging while ensuring they maintain a high quality of life. Said another way, this research focuses on understanding how to age successfully. An important growing focus in gerontology research is expanding quality of life research to understand and support aging adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Applied behavior analysis, with its focus on improving socially important behaviors through the systematic application of behaviorally grounded interventions, is uniquely poised to provide empirical answers and evidence-based approaches to helping this population age successfully. This presentation will first discuss the current notions of aging successfully and how that applies to aging adults with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual and developmental disabilities. It will then cover existing knowledge of barriers to successful aging. The presentation will then focus on existing applied behavior analytic research and approaches that promote successful aging, as well as areas ripe for applied behavior analytic research and intervention.