About half a million youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder will leave high school over the next decade—and will face unique challenges as they transition to adulthood. We looked at the services and supports that these youth (ages 14-24) need to attain their goals for adulthood, which may include advanced education, employment, living independently, health and safety, and integrating into a community. For April’s Autism Awareness Month, we’re sharing what we learned. Read on for results from a 2016 roundtable discussion held with adults with autism, service providers, employers, researchers, and parents of youth with autism. Characteristics of autism Some say that when you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. That’s because autism is a highly individual condition that encompasses a range of characteristics, each of which can vary in severity, as illustrated below.
(Excerpted from GAO-17-109)Services needed Youth with autism can have a meaningful life and achieve the goals they set for themselves. The key to doing so appears to be receiving services that are individualized, timely, equitable, and community- and evidenced-based. Youth also need timely access to services regardless of race, gender, family income, or location. For example, girls and minority youth may be diagnosed at a later age, receive fewer services during school, and need additional help planning their transition to adulthood. The mix of services needed varies depending on the type and severity of an individual’s autism characteristics, and may include
- Communication assistance
- Life skills training
- Behavioral interventions
- Mental health care
- Social and vocational supports