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April 22, 2015

Drexel autism report focuses on transition into young adulthood

More than one-third of young adults with autism were disconnected from work and education during their early 20s, according to a new report from the Life Course Outcomes Research Program at Drexel University’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.

The “National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood” focuses on the outcomes of young people on the autism spectrum as they enter their adult lives, including their living arrangements, social participation, employment, education and health.

“When it comes to understanding how well our nation is helping youth affected by autism, our situation is like driving a car through the fog with no dashboard,” Paul Shattuck, Ph.D., leader of the Life Course Outcomes Research Program and an associate professor at Drexel, said in a statement. 

“We know we’re moving, but we do not have many indicators to tell us how fast we are going, whether we’re getting close to our goals, or what kind of mileage we are getting from the resources fueling our trip.”

Thirty-seven percent of young adults with autism never got a job or continued education after high school, compared to less than 8 percent of young adults with other types of disabilities.

The report indicates a decline in access to services during the transition to adulthood, such as help finding employment, continuing their education or living more independently. Approximately 26 percent of young adults with autism, and 28 percent of those unemployed and not in school, received no services.

Furthermore, approximately one in four young adults with autism were socially isolated within the past year. They never saw or talked with friends and were not invited to social activities. More than 60 percent of youth had at least two health or mental health conditions, in addition to autism spectrum disorder.

The report also discussed safety, risk, living arrangements and transition planning.

See the full report.

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