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Adults with Autism

What happens when someone with autism or Asperger's Syndrome leaves school and makes the transition to adult services, college, work, job training or a new living situation? What does research say about the issues that affect adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families? See the following links for these and other topics.

Photo of young adults working at computersBeyond High School: The Transition

Coming of Age: Autism and The Transition to Adulthood
The road to adulthood officially begins for many teens when they graduate. But for people with autism, leaving high school is a more monumental step, one that will transform their relationship to services and supports.

Daily Living Skills: A Key to Independence for People with Autism.
A "surprising" number of teens with autism struggle with daily living skills — hygiene, riding a bus, shopping or preparing a meal — regardless of intelligence. Experts say it's important to focus on teaching such skills as a key to independence.

Autism and the College Experience
Many students struggle to adjust to the challenges of college: dorms, independence, tough classes and a new social world. But for people with autism, the transition can be more dramatic. How should they prepare?

Finding a College Program for Students with Autism
Regardless of where a student falls on the autism spectrum, whether he was valedictorian or left high school without a diploma, there is a college program for him. But it will take a little research to find the right fit. Here are some resources and tips that can help.

Leaving the Pediatrician: Charting the Medical Transition of Youth with Autism
Few teens with autism are prepared for a vital transition, that from pediatric doctors to providers who treat adults. A smooth transition is crucial because adults with autism have more medical and psychiatric problems than other people. Find out what you can do.

Video on Autism and Skills For Adulthood
In this video, Dr. Peter Gerhardt discusses the adaptive skills that teens and young adults with autism spectrum disorder need to acquire to help them lead safe, productive, and fulfilling adult lives. These skills include safety, hygiene, employment, social competence, decision-making, self-management, leisure, and communication.

Autism in the Teen Years: What to Expect, How to Help
What parent doesn't watch their "tween" become a teen without a twinge of anxiety? Factor autism into the equation, and parents may well wonder how the physical and hormonal changes of adolescence will affect their child on the spectrum. Find out what researchers and experts say about autism during the teen years.

Autism Beyond High School
Unprecedented numbers of young people with ASD will be making the transition to adulthood over the next few years. In this article, we briefly explore some of the programs available to adults with ASD who qualify; the small amount of research on provision of adult services available so far; and efforts by families and others to improve the prospects of adults with ASD.

Deciding When to Disclose
High functioning adults who do not show very obvious signs of having an ASD often face a decision: when and if to disclose their ASD at school, work, or in relationships. Read about factors to consider when making disclosure decisions.

Rules of the Road: Driving and ASD
The young person with high-functioning ASD faces all of the same challenges as anyone else getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time. Plus, autism may pose additional challenges, such as attentional difficulties and anxiety. Read about the experiences of these young drivers as well as some of the early research into how to support their efforts.

Jobs and housing for adults with ASD

A Place of Their Own: Residential Services for Soon-to-Be Adults with Autism
An unprecedented number of families will soon watch their children with autism leave school and flood the adult disability system. These children, the first wave of the so-called "autism epidemic," will enter a disability support system already under strain, according to a journal paper co-authored by Peter F. Gerhardt, Ed.D.,chair of the Organization for Autism Research's Scientific Council. The influx represents a "looming crisis of unprecedented magnitude for adults with autism, their families, and the ill-prepared and underfunded adult service system charged with meeting their needs," the paper said. Many adults with disabilities are already on long waiting lists for housing services.

The Changing Employment Scene for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Despite the challenges of finding and sustaining employment, transition services and better workplace supports are opening up more job opportunities for those on the spectrum. Advocates also urge individuals to prepare for careers right from high school, and train for the job interview process. Once on the job, some organizations are being more considerate to needs of individuals with ASD by offering visual instructions and the option of working in an environment that is suitable to their sensory preferences, among other measures.

Adult Employment: Strangers in a Strange Land
Today's 20-somethings with autism often feel like strangers among their own species when they leave the legal protections afforded schoolchildren to enter the adult world of limited support services, long waiting lists, and scant funding. Those who become accomplished sometimes look back on their experiences to reflect on their sense of alienation in a society that doesn't look favorably on those who don't blend in easily. Find out what the researchers have learned about the transition.

Family and Personal Relationships

Romantic Relationships for Young Adults with Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism
Despite the social struggles experienced by many people with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome, some adults are able to develop intimate personal relationships. Read more in this article by Tony Attwood.

Adults with ASD: My Brother's (Sister's) Keeper
The sibling bond typically undergoes major changes during adulthood. Researchers are delving into the possibility that this bond plays a key role in the quality of adult life when one of the siblings has an ASD.

Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen and his colleagues, all at the Autism Research Centre in Cambridge, discuss the "lost generation" -- those with Asperger's who grew up before the diagnosis existed. They describe a unique program designed to help diagnose and assist these adults, helping them to understand themselves as well as to access services and support.

Research on adults with autism

What Do We Really Know About Autism and Crime?
News reports have highlighted alleged high-profile crimes by people with autism spectrum disorders in recent years. But media speculation aside, what do we really know about autism and violent crime?

Adults with ASD: The Spectrum
Many children with ASD improve in social and communication behaviors during adolescence and adulthood. Researchers are wondering: What distinguishes these children from those who don't seem to benefit from the same degree of improvement? What can be done to maximize the potential of each individual in the real world?

Behavior Therapy Beyond Childhood
Can teens and adults benefit from behavior therapy? In this article, Tom Frazier and Leslie Sinclair of the Cleveland Clinic bust the myth that intensive behavior therapy works only for young children.

IAN Report: National Town Hall Meeting Focuses on Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Read our report on a national town hall meeting held by Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism, where adults with ASD, parents, providers, and advocates gathered in sixteen cities, linked by the latest in meeting technologies.

First Look: Data on Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Get a preview of the initial data provided by adults, or their legal representatives, who responded to the IAN Adult with ASD Questionnaire. These data are preliminary, gathered from a small sample of respondents thus far, but perhaps you have some ideas on how to reach more of these adults, who can provide valuable information to advocates, policymakers, and researchers.

The 'C' Word: Common Cause in Spite of Conflicting Perspectives
Connie Anderson, Ph.D., IAN's Community Scientific Liaison, explores cure as hope, as answer, and as healing...and cure as hurtful condemnation of a different way of being and thinking. However, what may be most useful is not to let the c-word get in the way of what everyone wants: a greatly improved situation for individuals with ASD.

Resources for Adults with ASD