Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neuro-developmental disorder, characterized by social communication deficits and restricted and repetitive behavior patterns that last a lifetime for most. Given current prevalence estimates of ASD in the U.S. (i.e., 1 in 68 children), approximately 50,000-70,000 youth on the autism spectrum will turn 18 years old each year.
Youth on the autism spectrum are especially vulnerable during the developmental transition from adolescence to adulthood due to myriad factors, including co-occurring health and mental health challenges and having to adjust to major service transitions. Many individuals experience the loss of needed supports (through special education) upon their exit from the K-12 system and significant barriers and challenges as they attempt to access adult systems of care. Outcomes for adults with ASD are bleak with an estimated 50% of young adults on the autism spectrum completely disconnected from any employment or education opportunities during the first two years after high school.
The Health Care Transitions Research Network (HCT-RN) for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) aims to increase our overall understanding of the multivariate factors (i.e., on the individual, family, community, health system, and policy levels) influencing population-level measures of life course outcomes for individuals with ASD. It provides a forum for key stakeholders from diverse disciplines in the field to connect, collaborate, promote research, and develop innovative projects, and is the first ever collaborative research network with the aim of addressing the health, family, and social needs of adolescent and young adults on the autism spectrum.