Young adults with autism had lower employment rates and higher rates of complete social isolation than people with other disabilities reported a recent research by the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, U.S.
The report found that two thirds of young people with autism had neither a job nor educational plans during the first two years after high school and for over a third of young adults with autism, this continued into their early 20s.
Data from two longitudinal studies, the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, which followed young people in special education programs, and the Pathways survey of children with physical, developmental, mental and behavioral disorders were used for the report.
In comparison with autism, 74% of young people with intellectual disabilities, 95% with learning disabilities and 91% with a speech impairment or emotional disturbance were employed in their early 20s.
Professor Paul Shattuck, Drexel University's School of Public Health said, "We don't really know at this point why that's happening. Starting in the early- to mid-1970s, there's been a historic shift in the balance of jobs in the manufacturing sector to the service sector. And those types of jobs, which require lots of social interaction, are exactly the types of jobs that people with autism have difficulty with."
Community programs for adults with autism generally have the capacity to help only the most severely impaired by federal law. But the federal law holds good only when the students develop a transition plan. Only 58% of high school students frame a transition plan with the assistance of special education services.
Many people with autism also have an intellectual disability, a seizure disorder or mental health issues. "Although the core of the disability is an inability to relate easily to other people, the majority of people on the spectrum do have some amount of social appetite," said Shattuck.
One in four young people with autism were completely isolated without friends or any form of socialization. Most autism research is focused on children with autism or on preventing the development of autism, but it is more important to help adults with the spectrum.