“So here it is, Merry Christmas. Everybody’s having fun”……….or are they?

In the first of a series of blogs, Kiran Hingorani and Paul Catherall explore the notion of Quality of Life and its importance when working with young people with ASD and their families. If you would like to participate in their project Kiran can be contacted on KHingorani@swalcliffepark.co.uk

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No matter how joyous or irritating you find the perennial Christmas song by Slade, we all know it will be difficult to avoid hearing it in the coming weeks. Christmas is definitely coming but will everybody be having fun? As we approach Christmas 2016, we may have very good reason to challenge Noddy Holder’s claim about this.

Bah, humbug, I hear you reply!

Yet, according to the findings of a large-scale survey of people from a number of European countries last year: “… the Christmas period is related to a decrease in life satisfaction and emotional well-being” (Mutz, 2015).

Now your own life circumstances as we approach the season of goodwill may well mean that you will be singing along with Noddy and his band……..then again after a few days of festivities, you might find yourself agreeing with Dr Mutz’s findings!

The findings in the 2015 study which were published in Applied Research in Quality of Life are, not surprisingly, about Quality of Life (QoL). But what does this term actually mean? Surely it means different things to different people and personal judgements about QoL have to be, by their very nature, subjective. You are the only person who can evaluate your own QoL…. not even the legendary Mr Holder can do this for you!

And another thing… your personal circumstances could easily and rapidly change and have positive or negative impacts on your life. Your financial situation might change suddenly – you may become much richer or much poorer. Your physical health might improve significantly or it may seriously deteriorate. Your personal relationships could blossom or start to decline. Your psychological well-being might be influenced by unexpected crises or happy life events. And so on.

So, this notion of QoL appears to be something that is highly personal and subjective; it is dynamic and ever-changing; and it is multi-dimensional – many things can influence its many components. While all this makes it complex to define, it is likely that most people would claim to have a fair understanding of what it means to them, even if it is a sensitive issue for them to discuss. In view of all this, why should it matter to anyone, other than each individual…at Christmas or indeed any other time?

And what has it got to do with education and schools anyway?

If the answer to this is of interest to you why not join us for our future blogs, where we will discuss the concept of Quality of Life and its relevance to children and young people with ASD and their families. We will propose that it is highly relevant to those of us who work in schools to support these children and young people. We will consider the extent to which we actually appreciate the impact of ASD on family life. We will even try to determine whether it is feasible to measure such an elusive concept and, if so, what can schools do with the information we collect.

In the meantime, look to the future now ….its only just begun, so festive greetings to everybody and jingle all the way!

Swalcliffe Park School – a specialist day and residential school for secondary-aged boys with ASD

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