Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Autism in Adulthood


Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Publishers

Publication Date


First Page


Last Page



Background: Experiencing mental health concerns (e.g., depression, anxiety, stress) can have negative effects on satisfaction with life (SWL) for autistic adults. Current mental health supports that may promote SWL do not effectively meet the needs of autistic adults, often due to deficits-based approaches. Methods: To begin addressing the gap in research surrounding mental health supports among autistic adults, we designed a preregistered longitudinal study that used structural equation modeling to assess 289 autistic adults from the Simons Powering Autism Research (SPARK) program to determine if progress toward ones values, a strengths-based component of psychological flexibility, is a potential mechanism through which mental health concerns (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) impact SWL. Results: Results suggested that depression (but not anxiety or stress) negatively affected participants’ SWL. However, when including components of psychological flexibility as a mediator, there was no longer a significant direct effect between depression and SWL, suggesting that influences on SWL was explained through participants levels of components of psychological flexibility. The influence of values progress on the association between depression and SWL was significantly stronger than that of value obstruction (a deficit-based construct). Associations did not differ across gender. Conclusion: These findings provide preliminary support for interventions targeting improvements in psychological flexibility as they may help address core issues of deficit-based mental health services while also being able to emphasize outcomes that matter most to the autism community.


This is the accepted version of the following article: Aller, T.; Kelley, H.; Barrett, T.; Covington, B.; Levin, M.; McClain, M.; An Examination of Psychological Flexibility as a Mediator Between Mental Health Concerns and Satisfaction with Life Among Autistic Adults. Autism in Adults, 2024, which has now been formally published in final form at Autism in Adulthood at This original submission version of the article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers’ self-archiving terms and conditions.