Uncertain Futures


Anxiety related to uncertainty about the future is a very real and significant problem for many individuals with ASD and for their families.

This projects aims to assess the nature and scale of specific concerns and anxiety relating to uncertainty about the future for both individuals with ASD and their carers. Difficulty tolerating uncertainty about the future has been identified as a major contributor to the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders. We know that anxiety is a very common co-occurring condition in adults with ASD. Previous research from our group has provided the first evidence that anxiety related to intolerance of uncertainty (IU) about the future is a major driver for this increased anxiety among people with ASD. Unfortunately in a rapidly changing world and despite, and perhaps because of, the increased availability of information we cannot always be fully informed about and prepared for every eventuality and an element of uncertainty is an inevitable aspect of the human condition. It is therefore imperative that, alongside changes in practice, service provision and improved communication that may actually reduce uncertainty, we provide individuals with ASD with strategies to tolerate the remaining and unavoidable uncertainty about the future. Therefore our second aim is to develop an intervention programme focussing on intolerance of uncertainty for use, on an individual basis, directly with adults with ASD.

The aims of the project are:

  • We will consult with adults with ASD and with their carers/parents about their experiences and concerns regarding uncertainty about the future
  • Taking the information from this consultation exercise into account we will adapt and provide preliminary evaluation an intervention aimed at reducing intolerance of uncertainty (IU), to be delivered on an individual basis to adults with ASD.

Our objectives are:

  • To assess the nature and scale of concerns regarding uncertainty about the future for adults with ASD and their parents/carers and to inform policy, practice and communication in this area.
  • To increase knowledge about the form and impact of concerns and anxiety about uncertainty relating to the future among adults with ASD and their carers/families.
  • To develop and provide preliminary evidence of the feasibility and acceptability of an intervention designed to be delivered to adults with ASD which targets IU (CUES-A).
  • To examine the acceptability and suitability of outcome measures to inform the required sample size for a future clinical trial of the intervention.


Herrema, R., Garland, D., Osborne, M., Freeston, M.,  Honey, E., Rodgers, J. What happens when I can no longer support my relative on the autism spectrum? Worries about the future for family members of adults on the autism spectrum. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 2017 (in press)

Who is involved in this study?

The Principal Investigator for this study is Dr Jacqui Rodgers

Jacqui Rodgers

Also involved in the project from outside the Neurodevelopment and Disability team are:

  • Professor Mark Freeston (Expert on IU and anxiety)
  • Dr Emma Honey (Clinical supervisor)
  • Mrs Deborah Garland (PPI Lead)
  • Ms Renske Herrema (Research Assistant)

More information        

Email: jacqui.rodgers@ncl.ac.uk             

Twitter: @jacquirodgers                                  

Call: 0191 208 7562

Other research

Uncertain Futures sits within the 'Effects and acceptability of interventions' research theme.

If you are looking for other research linked to ASD, please view the relevant condition and topic page.