Skip navigation

Calls to Action

Autism’s ‘Aging Out’ Crisis

Autism Speaks-funded researcher Paul Shattuck addresses the “services cliff” that families face when kids with autism reach adulthood
July 15, 2014

The following excerpt is from “Aging Out,” as published in Excel: The Research Magazine of Drexel University. Paul Shattuck’s continuing research on factors that promote successful outcomes for young adults with autism expands on an earlier pilot study funded by Autism Speaks

Two decades ago, Gloria Esposito joined other parents in the hard-fought battle for early intervention services for children on the autism spectrum.

Her son, Louis Esposito III, was diagnosed with the developmental disorder when he was almost 2 years old. “I left my business,” says Esposito, 57, who lives in Haverford, Pa. “I started a full-time, at-home treatment model for my son. I had to create it from nothing.”

The parent power of the time made a tremendous difference in the lives of autistic children and eventually won them many services.

Now, as these children — young adults really — age out of high school at 21, they face an uncertain future.

“Where am I now?” Esposito asks. “I’m looking at very few options. It’s back to the drawing board.”

Drexel University researcher Paul T. Shattuck understands only too well the challenges facing many families. Recently appointed associate professor of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, he leads the Life Course Outcomes Research Program. Shattuck has conducted pioneering work on the quality of life for autistic adults. His studies are among the first to put real numbers to outcome issues as young adults on the autism spectrum move into the world of college, vocational training or employment as well as living more independently.

What he has found is cause for concern.... Read the full article here.