The social dimension of quality of life within the care for adults with autism; two philosophical concepts that may provide practical tools to caregivers
background The conceptualisation of quality of life of adults in treatment for autism has received very little attention in the medical literature.
aim To clarify, from a philosophical perspective, two concepts, namely relational autonomy and coping, which contribute to quality of life and which, we believe, are easily applicable in the care for adults with autism.
method We conducted a selective review of relevant medical and philosophical literature. We clarify the concepts of ‘relational autonomy‘ and ‘coping’, present a case and discuss possible practical applications of the aforementioned concepts in clinical practice.
results We clarify from a philosophical point of view the concepts of relational autonomy and coping, how these concepts contribute to the quality of life and how they can be used in the daily provision of care. The care-givers should see a patient primarily as a person, and should be aware that the division of roles between patient and care-givers implies certain forms of communication. By utilising the relational aspects, the therapist and the care supervisor within the care relationship have the means, uniquely tailored to the person and the domain, to increase the patient’s autonomy and consequently his/her quality of life.
conclusion If the two concepts, relational autonomy and coping, are operationalised and applied in a straightforward manner in clinical practice, it should be possible to improve the quality of life of adults with autism.