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HHS Report Highlights Need for Coordinated Approach to Autism Services

September 08, 2017

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released its Report to Congress on Young Adults and Transitioning Youth with Autism Spectrum DisorderThis report was recently sent to Congress, fulfilling a requirement of the 2014 Autism CARES Act, which tasked the federal government with surveying the current landscape of adult autism servicesreporting to Congress where gaps exist, and analyzing how to address those needs most effectively

Autism Speaks worked closely on crafting and successfully advocating for the 2014 Autism CARES Act, which reauthorized the landmark Combating Autism Act for five additional years.  The Autism CARES Act authorizes federal funding in excess of $3 billion by 2019 for autism research, services, training and monitoring. The Autism CARES Act also underscored the importance of addressing the needs of individuals with autism by directing HHS to identify the challenges facing our community and the ways in which federal and state officials can address them. 

Every year 50,000 individuals with autism transition out of pediatric and school-based services and into adulthood. While their needs don’t suddenly change at this time, their system of supports does and transitioning youth with autism face a “services cliff” where securing access to postsecondary education and training, employment, housing, transportation, community supports and other services is often difficult. HHS’s report describes some common characteristics of youth and young adults with autism and the challenges related to this transition to adulthood. The report also summarizes existing federal efforts focused on promoting positive transition outcomes for individuals with autism, and identifies gaps and recommendations for further consideration in federal research, programs, and services that support youth with autism during this critical time of their lives.

The HHS report builds off of recent reports published by the Government Accountability Office, offering “Roundtable Views” of necessary transition services as well as recommendations that federal agencies take additional action to support transition-age youth. The need for bipartisan efforts to make autism a federal priority continues as Congress reviews this information. 

To read the full report, follow this link to the HHS website and scroll down to Publications.”