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Calls to Action

Autism services "cliff" at age 22 highlighted by Boston Globe

April 19, 2016

Over the next decade, 500,000 young adults with autism will age out of publicly-funded day programs and services, according to researcher Paul Shattuck, associate professor at the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute. This adult services "cliff" is gaining more attention in the news, and was recently highlighted by The Boston Globe

A Massachusetts state program called “Turning 22” helps families transition into the adult service system. The program began in 1998, when 450 young adults in Mass. were set to age out of school programs and enter adult Department of Developmental Services. The state didn't begin tracking how many of those young people had an autism diagnosis until 2015, the Globe reported. 900 young adults are transitioning to the program this year, 45 of whom are diagnosed with autism.

A study that Shattuck was involved with, reported in the journal Pediatrics in 2012, found that 35 percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received education after leaving high school. 

Autism Speaks is helping to address this issue through a few initiatives:

  • We recently funded the Autism Speaks House to Home Prize to develop revolutionary solutions that empower adults with ASD to live as independently as possible while remaining connected to a larger community. This breakthrough must include the supports necessary to safely live outside of the family home, and it may come in the form of technology, architecture design, strategic partnerships, community services, new business models, or any combination of these or countless other ideas. We will announce the three winners on April 26, who will be awarded $50,000 each for submitting breakthrough ideas for individuals who require 24/7 support, daily support and weekly support.
  • In partnership with Rangam Consultants Inc. (RCI) and WebTeam Corporation, Autism Speaks launched TheSpectrumCareers.com to connect employers with qualified individuals with autism and other disabilities. Read more about the website here.
  • Autism Speaks presented at the “Conquering the Cliff: Autism’s Journey Into Adulthood” conference hosted by Bridgewell that just took place late last week in Framingham, Mass. that was well-attended. The conference featured 18 workshops on a wide variety of topics. As more and more individuals with autism are entering the adult world, service providers and families have been working diligently and creatively to develop supports and service models to meet the needs of this population. 
  • Autism Speaks offers a Transition Tool Kit, Employment Tool Kit and a Postsecondary Educational Opportunities Guide to help young adults with autism achieve the best possible outcome. For a full list of all our Tool Kits, go here.

Read more at The Boston Globe.