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Calls to Action

One State's Approach to Autism and Aging Out

January 06, 2015

WBEZ radio out of Chicago addressed a common question for families: what happens to young people with autism after they age out of school? 

Federal law requires each student on the spectrum to develop a transition plan, and in Illinois, the process starts at age 14 ½. In Illinois, more than 19,000 minors have autism. And that’s just what the schools are identifying. 

Despite the law, parents like Bill Casey told WBEZ they feel the system can leave families frustrated and confused.

“Parents don’t understand what’s offered to them by the community service organizations,” Casey told WBEZ. “You really have to start digging to figure what’s available. You really need friends like Julie and Michael Tracy to help guide you in some ways to find the right avenues.”

Julie and Michael Tracy run the Growing Solutions Farm, an urban farm that caters to young adults with autism. The farm harvests "everything from collard greens to fresh tomatoes," with the food going to pantries in the city.

An option for young people looking for higher education is the Autism Clinic and TAP Training Center at University of Illinois, Chicago. A support group, called ASPiE (Adults Spectrum People in Education), meets once a week there to talk about what’s in store after college, managing course loads, and answer questions about careers.

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Autism Speaks offers support and resources for families and young adults in the transition stage. Take a look at our Community-based Skills Assessment that will help assess the current skill levels and abilities of individuals with autism beginning at age 12 and continuing into adulthood in order to develop a comprehensive plan. Read below for more helpful links:

"Aging Out": How Does the New Federal Health Care Law Impact Coverage for Young Adults?

Resource Guide: A State-by-State Map

Employment Guides and Toolkits