Factors that Influence the Daily Living Skills of Autistic Adults: The Importance of Opportunity

Shin Er Teh, Le Thao Vy Vo, Vanessa H. Bal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While existing literature has demonstrated that Daily Living Skills (DLS) performance of autistic individuals is lower than what is expected of their age and cognitive abilities, limited studies have examined DLS in autistic adults. This study aimed to understand the influence of intellectual function (IQ) and contextual factors (i.e., provision of opportunities) on autistic individuals’ DLS performance. Participants included 33 autistic individuals ranging in age from 16 to 35 years. Their caregivers were administered the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, 3rd edition’s (Vineland-3) caregiver interview form. A novel coding system was developed to capture the frequency of reasons for participants’ non-performance of DLS tasks, based on caregiver’s report. “Target” scores reflecting expected possible score if reasons for nonperformance could be addressed were computed. Qualitative analysis of parental responses indicated that, for adults with average or higher IQ, lack of opportunity to learn and/or implement the skill was the most frequent reason for not performing DLS. Lack of opportunity was also the second most common reason provided for adults with NVIQ below 85, following cognitive ability. Taking into account reasons for nonperformance, “Target” scores were, on average, 7.65 points higher for the NVIQ ≥ 85 group. These findings highlight a need for multi-dimensional assessment to go beyond individual strengths and difficulties to also include contextual factors that may influence adults’ skill acquisition and performance. It is essential that clinicians ensure that adequate opportunities for learning and performance are available to promote acquisition of important DLS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


  • Adaptive behavior
  • Adults
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Daily living skills


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