The aim of this paper is to provide some concrete guidelines for understanding and measuring the well-being of individuals affected by autism. I discuss the use of psychometric tests to understand and measure the well-being of autists.
There is an astounding lack of both empirical and philosophical research on well-being for individuals with autism. Certainly, the heterogeneity of this population makes it difficult to say something univocal. This, however, is not enough of a reason not to try to make at least some progress in this area. The ultimate aim of this paper is to provide some concrete guidelines for understanding and measuring the well-being of individuals affected by autism. This will be accomplished in large part by considering the applicability to individuals affected by autism of psychometric tools such as the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) and other affective measures of well-being currently applied to normal populations. This task will in turn take us into a quick discussion of the philosophical significance and general limitations of these psychometric tools, and a more detailed discussion of the specific limitations that arise when these tools are applied to autistic populations. As part of the latter discussion, I examine a number of classes of cases, going from the class of individuals on the spectrum that are similar in many key respects to individuals outside the spectrum, to the class of individuals on the spectrum that are not able to understand and-or answer any of the questions involved by these tools. I conclude with a discussion of how to understand and measure the well-being of individuals in the latter class.