Prof. Patricia Howlin

Prof. Patricia Howlin

Emeritus Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London

Prof. Patricia Howlin is an Emeritus Professor of Clinical Child Psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London. Her principal research interests focus on the long-term prognosis for individuals with autism spectrum and other developmental disorders and on developing intervention programmes that may help to improve outcome. Professor Howlin is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and Fellow of the international Society for Autism Research. She is President of the Society for the Study of Behavioural Phenotypes and past Chair of the UK Association of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. She is a founding editor of the journal “Autism” and author of over 200 research publications.

Her Awards include the Autism Association of Western Australia– for Services to Autism; International Society for Autism Research (INSAR): Life-time Achievement Award; German, Austrian, Swiss Society for Research in Autism Spectrum Conditions: Kanner -Asperger medal; UK National Autistic Society: Life-time Achievement Award.



Short Description of the Lecture:

1. Improving Outcome in Autism
Long-term follow-up studies of individuals with autism have shown that, with age, the severity of autism symptoms tends to decline. Thus, social and communication skills often improve and ritualistic behaviours typically become less marked. Nevertheless, the lifetime outcomes for most adults with autism, including those of average to high IQ, remain poor. Educational attainments are limited, and adults with autism are significantly less likely to be in employment than individuals with other developmental or intellectual disabilities. In adulthood, social isolation is common, many individuals remain highly dependent on families for support, and opportunities for leisure and other activities outside the home are also very restricted. These factors are accompanied by high rates of mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression, as well as physical ill health and generally poor quality of life.The presentation will discuss predictors of outcome in adulthood and potential ways of helping to ensure a more positive prognosis for young people with autism growing up today

2.Recent Research in Older Adults with Autism

The number of older individuals with autism (age 60+ years) involved in studies of ageing is very limited. Although there have been some recent, albeit small scale, studies of cognitive and other trajectories in mid- to older age groups of autistic adults, findings are often inconsistent. Thus, while some research suggests that difficulties continue to increase in older age, other studies have reported that some cognitive skills are relatively better preserved in autism than in the general population. Assessments of mental, health and quality of life also suggest improvements with age.

This talk will review recent studies examining the ageing process in autism and discuss potential ways of enhancing cognitive and other functions in older adults. Possible reasons why autism may provide a buffer against typical ageing processes will also be discussed.

3. Reflection Session: Panel Discussion