THURSDAY, Oct. 27 (HealthDay News) -- More children are being diagnosed with autism than ever before and now many of these children are graduating from high school and entering, or at least trying to enter, the workforce.
Unfortunately, this critical crossroads is precisely the time that supportive services for this population tend to peter out.
"What we're seeing now is this group of adults with the autism diagnosis who have been more empowered and supported than ever before, but they're leaving behind the school structure and special-ed structure," said Scott Standifer, a clinical associate professor at the University of Missouri's School of Health Professions. "The system of adult disability support is very different, so they're having trouble figuring out and making that transition. The world of work is not the same as the world of school."
The result? People with autism have higher rates of unemployment and, when they do work, tend to earn less.
According to a fact sheet compiled by Standifer based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, less than one-third of people with a disability aged 16 to 65 were working in 2010, compared with about two-thirds of people without a disability. And people with autism were only about half as likely to be working as people with disabilities in general (33 percent compared with 59 percent).
One study found that almost 40 percent of young adults with autism get no medical, mental health or case management services to help them make the transition into adulthood.
Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 110 children in the United States has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by problems with language and social interactions.
It is these communication issues that may pose the gr
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