Transition programs needed for young adults with autism, study finds

Targeted interventions during high school can help improve quality of life during the transition to adulthood for teenagers with autism.

A new case series study from University of Southern Queensland researchers investigated the challenges associated with transition out of schooling and into work or higher education for young Australian adults with autism.

The study found young adults with autism found it difficult to attain the skills needed to access employment, organize and manage daily life and coordinate higher education applications and attendance. It found those difficulties were often caused by inadequate planning and systems within the institutions meant to support these young adults into their new adult roles.

Lead author Dr. Yosheen Pillay said family-led social support, targeted transition programs and focus on functional outcomes were all associated with successful engagement in post-secondary education or employment. She also noted that autism-specific transition planning that included skill development helped improve the quality of life in the year after school for young adults with autism.

The study found unemployment and a lack of engagement in post-secondary education were associated with a deterioration in quality of life after leaving high school. Dr. Pillay said the study supported existing research that showed adequate planning in the school years could have a significant impact on the lives of young people with autism later in life.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.