Adults on the spectrum can face significant challenges, many of which are caused by the fact that our communities are often not set up well to accommodate and accept differences and disabilities.
The range of experiences of adult life varies greatly, of course. In many families, a young adult is very dependent on family care and support. Other people on the spectrum live totally independently.
Adults with autism usually want the same things that everyone does: a home, job and family. Unfortunately, research indicates that young adults with ASD are more likely to remain living at home and less likely to live independently after finishing high school than people with other disabilities. They are also less likely to be employed or involved in tertiary education.
Autism and work
It can also be difficult for adults with autism to find and keep a job, given their difficulties with social relating. Fortunately, increasingly employers such as Specialisterne Australia are recognising that employees with ASD can possess qualities that are seen as assets in certain industries, such as a love of routine, attention to detail and a good memory.
The introduction of the NDIS means increased support for young people with disabilities who are participants on the scheme. The School Leaver Employment Support (SLES) offers NDIS participants individualised support for up to 2 years after finishing year 12 to assist them in finding employment. SLES supports may include: work experience in open employment, job skills training and travel training. Participants have the opportunity to work with the disability employment service of their choice.
Making the successful transition
Still, the transition from adolescence to adulthood can be a difficult time for people with ASD. A study looked at the work and educational experiences of people with autism 10 years after high school graduation, and found that young people with greater independence in daily life had better outcomes.
One study found that academically bright students with ASD had daily living skills that were ‘significantly below’ expectations for someone of their age and IQ. Parents can play a role in helping their child to make a successful transition to adulthood by teaching their child daily living skills – such as personal hygiene, domestic skills, travel training and handling money – from an early age.
Many people with ASD find their community on the Internet, since it avoids all the pitfalls of the non-verbal cues that autistic people find challenging, and have found fulfilment and empowerment by connecting, sharing their experiences, and helping their peers achieve more self-determined lives.
In terms of resources that are directed toward meeting the needs of adults, we recommend the following web sites below.
Autism Launchpad: leaving school and leading your own life — Autism Spectrum Australia
To Drive or Not to Drive – That is the Question — Seana Smith for Autism Awareness Australia
I CAN Network – Australia’s first social enterprise founded by people with Autism
Daily Living Skills: A Key to Independence for People with Autism — Interactive Autism Network
Keys to Successful Independent Living, Employment and a Good Social Life for Individuals with Autism and Asperger’s — Temple Grandin for the Autism Research Institute
Featured blogs by autistic adults and young adults can be found in our Resources section.