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Employment Prospects Dim for Young Adults With Autism
Date:5/14/2012

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Young adults with an autism spectrum disorder are less likely to continue their education or get a job after high school when compared to young adults with other disabilities, new research indicates.

According to the study, only about 35 percent of young adults with autism attended college and only 55 percent had a job during the first six years after high school. Overall, they faced a greater than 50 percent chance of being unemployed or not attending college when compared to those with other disabilities, the researchers reported.

More than half of autistic young adults had no participation in either work or education during the two years after leaving high school, and even six years later more than one-third were without work or higher education, the study found.

"Many families with children with autism describe leaving high school as falling off a cliff because of the lack of services for adults with an autism spectrum disorder," said senior study author Paul Shattuck, an assistant professor of social work at Washington University in St. Louis. "So much of media attention focuses on children. It's important for people to realize autism does not disappear in adolescence. The majority of lifespan is spent in adulthood."

Part of the reason that young adults struggle after high school is that a core feature of the disorder is difficulty knowing how to interpret social interactions and handle a wide variety of social situations, something that is a necessity in many jobs, experts say.

But researchers also note that more educational and job-related support could help people with autism -- including the wave of children recently diagnosed -- who will be aging over the next decade as they find their place in society.

"We need to find ways to make room for adults with autism in our communities and help them get connected to o
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