Autism Spectrum Australia

Quality of life

Quality of life (QoL) is one of those things that can be hard to define. It has been described as an individual's “perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns” (World Health Organisation) but it’s hard to picture exactly what that might mean. Robert Schalock is one of the respected researchers here and defined the widely accepted model for assessing QoL in the context of disabilities (outlined in the table below).




Human (respect, dignity, equality, privacy), legal (citizenship, access, due process)


Life of the community, interactions with others, community roles (contributor, volunteer)

Self determination

Choices, decisions, personal control

Physical well being

Health, activities of daily living, leisure & recreation

Material well being

Finances, employment

Social inclusion

Living status (segregated)

Emotional well being

Free from abuse & neglect, continuity & security, intimacy, friends & caring relationships

Personal Development

Education, personal competence (cognitive, social, practical)

Fundamentally there are some big questions here about what makes people happy.

  • Are the quality of life indicators the same or similar for people of different ages, abilities or cultures?
  • How do we establish the goals for a quality of life for people who cannot communicate about these issues? Is it right to make assumptions based on others quality of life or is it purely personal?
  • Does this have any reflection on the type of we support we provide for people on the autism spectrum?

Interested in this topic? For more read Aspect Manager, Positive Behaviour Support, Tom Tutton's blog


  • Positive Behaviour Support

    Take a look at Aspect's positive behaviour support services

  • Quality of life