Let’s start by trying to provide a definition of Quality of Life which will help make sense of what we are doing and why…..
So, the first issue to deal with is the fact that most researchers shy away from a definition for QoL because it is notoriously hard to define This is not only due to its personalised, multi-faceted and dynamic nature but also because most people will have an intuitive understanding of what constitutes a good quality of life.
A prominent researcher in the field, Robert Schalock has developed a universal and widely accepted QoL model, which is based on three broad dimensions – Independence, Social Participation and Well-being. Each of these can be divided into more specific domains such as personal development, interpersonal relationships, social inclusion, emotional well-being etc.
This model holds particular appeal for our school because of the special emphasis we give to developing our autistic students’ attitudes, skills and knowledge in Communication, Self-Management, Independence and Achievement- four domains that fit into Schalock’s model well.
Rather than trying to define QoL then, the table below which is based on Schalock’s work provides a helpful way to think about it.
You will be able to find out more about this model and its component parts in other sections of this website but for now, this table will provide some preliminary insight into QoL and its multi-dimensional nature.
Later, we will explore ways to measure the QoL of young people with autism using questionnaires that incorporate many of the above dimensions and that have been specifically designed for this population and for their families. This leads us to another very important principle that underpins our work.