Transitions Over the Life Course For Individuals with Autism

April 19, 2018

Early identification of and intervention for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have traditionally garnered a significant portion of public attention and spending. However, with an estimated 60,000 youth on the autism spectrum turning 18 years old in 2016*, understanding the factors associated with risk and resilience in adulthood is of significant public health importance. Notably, both research and anecdotal accounts indicate that adults with autism tend to suffer from poor life course outcomes, including but not limited to unemployment, underemployment, and social disengagement. The Health Care Transitions Research Network (HCTRN) was thus designed as an interdisciplinary, multi-center research forum for scientific collaboration and infrastructure-building, with a focus on research designed to improve health care transitions and promote an optimal transition to adulthood among youth and young adults with ASD .

To commemorate Autism Awareness Month, the HCTRN released a special online-only journal supplement in Pediatrics, entitled, Transitions in the Life Course of Individuals with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities. This peer-reviewed issue includes 11 scientific manuscripts and 3 opinion pieces by family or self-advocates. Issues examined in this supplement include: the odyssey that families face when obtaining an initial diagnosis, factors influencing the receipt of interventions services for children and families, reviews of the landscape on the transition to adulthood of youth with autism, co-morbidities experienced by adults with autism, the HCTRN national agenda for research on the transition to adulthood of individuals with autism, and useful tools for both research and practice (i.e., a tool for conducting longitudinal and dynamic social network surveys, a national residency curriculum on transition).

Transitions in the Life Course of Individuals with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities can be accessed at:

* Based on projections from the 2015 Census Bureau estimate of the number of 17-year-olds in the United States and recent estimates of the prevalence of ASD in the United States.