As individuals with ASD turn 18 their lives change – drastically. Following high school, over half of young adults with ASD had neither had jobs nor enrolled in further education. Six years post high school, only a third of young adults with autism had gone to college and not even half had ever held a job.
This research examined data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2, a nine-year study of youth enrolled in special education classes during high school. They compared the post-high school employment and education of young adults ages 19-23 across several disability groups. These included individuals with ASD, intellectual disability, speech-language impairment or learning disability.
As it turned out, employment and education due to degree of impairment. The higher functioning individuals had the highest rates. Nearly 60 percent of this group attended some college and 80 percent had some paid jobs. This was dramatically contrasted in the low functioning group who had 11 percent enrolled in post-secondary education and only 23 percent had ever had a job.
Employment rates rose with family income (33% in families earning <$25,000; 75% in families earning >$75,0000) suggesting that with the right support services (that higher income families may have access to) the chances for independence in adulthood.
Dr. Shattuck’s report called for further research to determine the types of services that can best encourage a successful transition into adulthood. He also emphasized the need for more ideas on interventions to help low-income youth gain access to services that will allow them to have fuller participation in society.
Shattuck P, Carter Narendorf S, Cooper B, Sterzing P, Wagner M, Lounds Taylor J. Postsecondary Education and Employment Among Youth With an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Pediatrics. 2012; 129 (6): 1-8.