by Lois Rosenwald
Originally published: June 20, 2016
The outlook is often bleak for young adults with autism spectrum disorders. Even when they manage to graduate from high school or college, it’s difficult for them to find a full-time job.
Although there are many programs that help them interact with society when they’re young, those services are typically cut off by the time they graduate, leaving them with few options if they’re unable to navigate the work world on their own.
As a result, just 58 percent of young adults in their late teens and early 20s with autism worked for pay outside the home after high school, a far lower share than those with other types of disabilities, according to the 2015 National Autism Indicators Report. Those who were employed tended to work part-time in low-wage jobs.
Currently, the primary services intended to help young adults with autism are so-called ‘sheltered programs’ that start them in a segregated work environment with the hope that they will be able to become employed with a regular company down the road. But because they are narrowly focused and usually don’t include training in social cognition, they rarely succeed in this goal.