Critter Corner: What Happens When a Person with Autism Becomes an Adult?

Dear Bebe,
My niece, Amelia, has an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but is high-functioning. What happens to most children with ASD when they transition to adulthood?
Will Shebeokay
Dear Will,
The US Department of Health and Human Services recently released a comprehensive report, titled “Young Adults and Transitioning Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
In the report, HHS describes findings based on research conducted of young adults ages 20–25 with ASD who had been in special education in secondary school. The following were the trends that were observed, based on their research participants:
  • Less than 1 in 5 (19%) had ever lived independently (away from their parents without supervision) following high school (compared to more than 66 % for those with serious mental illness or 34% with intellectual disabilities not concurrent with ASD);
  • Nearly two-thirds (63.9%) received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits;
  • Only 58% had ever worked during their early 20s compared with those with other types of special health care and service needs, including emotional disturbances, speech and language impairments, and learning disabilities (all greater than 90%) as well as intellectual disabilities (74%); and
  • Only 36% of youth with ASD had ever participated in postsecondary education or training of any kind between high school and their early 20s.
The report delves deeply into the programs of various government agencies to assist those with ASD as they transition into the workforce, and resources available to help adults with ASD to become more independent. You can access the full report here.
On a positive note, according to the report, “Adults with ASD who receive supportive services have a high likelihood of subsequently gaining employment,” so be sure your niece receives all the support she can get from family and programs available to her.
Your niece and/or her family should make an appointment with Mr. Farr to discuss Special Needs Planning, to ensure that she is taken care of should something happen to her loved ones.
Hope this is helpful,
Print This Page
About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.