The study is published online May 14 and in the June print issue of Pediatrics.
In it, researchers examined data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2, a nine-year study of adolescents who were enrolled in special education because of autism, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities or speech and language impairments.
Compared with youth in the three other disability categories, autistic teens and young adults had significantly lower rates of employment and the highest overall rates of no participation in any work or education.
For example, only 55 percent of young adults with autism had paid employment, while 86 percent of those with a speech or language impairment, 94 percent of those with a learning disability and 69 percent of those with mental retardation did.
The education picture was a little brighter. About 35 percent of kids with autism attended a two- or four-year college; 51 percent of those with a speech or language delay did so, while 40 percent of those with a learning disability and 18 percent of those with mental retardation did.
For lower-income autistic teens and young adults, participation rates were even lower.
An estimated one in 88 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 50,000 youths with autism will turn 18 this year in the United States.
Peter Bell, executive vice president of programs and services for Autism Speaks and the father of a young adult with autism, said the transition to adulthood can be particularly difficult for the families of children with autism. During childhood, most services are centered in the educational system and children are entitled to receive a public education. In many states, special needs teens can continue to get some services through the sch
All rights reserved