Literature on Transition
Below is a list of articles published over the past 10 years which discuss outcomes and the current state of transition to adulthood for youth with autism spectrum disorders. Click on the article title to access and view additional information.
Transition services for youth with autism: A systematic review
Westbrook, J. D., Fong, C. J., Nye, C., Williams, A., Wendt, O., & Cortopassi, T. (2015). Transition Services for Youth With Autism A Systematic Review.Research on Social Work Practice, 25(1), 10-20
Purpose: As the number of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) rises, attention is increasingly focused on employment outcomes for individuals with ASD who are exiting public school settings. This review aimed to identify what works in transition programs to help students with ASD obtain competitive employment after graduation.
Method: Authors combed through the literature to find all research that could definitively identify interventions that predictably led to employment for transitioning youth.
Results: While no definitive conclusions can be drawn based upon the current review, the authors identified qualitative research that addressed elements of potential successful employment placements for individuals with ASD.
Discussion: Future research efforts are needed to develop studies that utilize rigorous experimental designs to determine the relative effectiveness of the various interventions being utilized in transition programming for students with ASD. This review is published in its entirety in the Campbell Collaboration Library of Systematic Reviews.
Transition from school to adulthood for youth with autism spectrum disorder: What we know and what we need to know
Wehman, P., Schall, C., Carr, S., Targett, P., West, M., & Cifu, G. (2014). Transition from school to adulthood for youth with autism spectrum disorder: What we know and what we need to know. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 1044207313518071.
Abstract: Youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience poor outcomes in the areas of independence, employment, and postsecondary education. This article provides a critical review of the key aspects of the transition process and identifies recommendations for policy and practice. The review highlights the literature and explores recommendations across the manifold elements of this transition, including social and psychological development, high school curriculum, work, and college. Five policy recommendations are outlined in the areas of school curriculum, employment development, postsecondary education, inclusion with nondisabled peers, and systematic instruction. Finally, the authors offer recommendations for further research in the areas of social interaction, increased academic and vocational rigor, employment, technology, independence, and postsecondary education.
The roles and needs of families of adolescents with ASD
Smith, L. E., & Anderson, K. A. (2013). The roles and needs of families of adolescents with ASD. Remedial and Special Education, 0741932513514616.
Abstract: The transition of a student out of high school and into the adult world can be a stressful time for many families of high school students. This major life transition can be particularly challenging for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. In this article, we first discuss the roles of families in the transition process for their son or daughter with ASD. Next, we present literature on the unique needs of families of adolescents with ASD during the transition to adulthood. Finally, we highlight current research on best practices for supporting transition-age students and their families as well as discuss future directions for research and practice.
Connecting youth and young adults with autism spectrum disorders to community life
Carter, E. W., Harvey, M. N., Taylor, J. L., & Gotham, K. (2013). Connecting youth and young adults with autism spectrum disorders to community life. Psychology in the Schools, 50(9), 888-898.
Abstract: Equipping youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to flourish during and after high school is central to the purpose and practice of special education. However, many students with ASD are leaving high school without the preparation and connections needed to engage meaningfully in their communities. This article reviews research-based approaches for connecting adolescents with ASD to life beyond the classroom by describing promising practices for fostering inclusion in postsecondary education and community activities. Recognizing that relationships are at the core of community life, emphasis is placed on fostering social connections as an essential aspect of helping young people with ASD thrive in these settings. We conclude with suggestions for school staff to support the successful transitions of young people with ASD.
Employment and adults with autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and strategies for success
Hendricks, D. (2010). Employment and adults with autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and strategies for success. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(2), 125-134.
Abstract: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have the ability and desire to work, but there are still several obstructions. Research overwhelmingly demonstrates disappointing employment outcomes for this group. The vast majority is unemployed and for those who do have gainful employment, underemployment is common. The increased prevalence of ASD coupled with unique social, communication, and behavioral characteristics translate into the need for services to help them achieve employment success. Consideration of individual characteristics including strengths, needs, as well as specific interests, coupled with implementation of proper supports can result in successful and ongoing employment. This paper provides a review of evidence based research related to employment for individuals with ASD. Specific areas addressed include benefits of employment, state of employment, obstacles to employment, current service options, and an in depth review of supports needed for success. These supports focus not only on job tasks, but also the interpersonal skills needed to foster a positive work experience.
Transition from school to adulthood for youth with autism spectrum disorders: Review and recommendations
Hendricks, D. R., & Wehman, P. (2009). Transition from school to adulthood for youth with autism spectrum disorders: Review and recommendations. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities.
Abstract: The transition from school services to adulthood can be particularly difficult for many adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Although some individuals with ASD are able to successfully transition, most are faced with significant obstacles in multiple areas as they attempt to negotiate their way into college, work, community participation, and independent living. This article contains a review of research related to the transition from school to adulthood for youth with ASD in the areas of education, employment, community living, and community integration. These key areas of the transition process are crucial for success in adulthood. A summary of principal conclusions drawn from the current literature and suggestions for future research are provided.
Supporting more able students on the autism spectrum: College and beyond
VanBergeijk, E., Klin, A., & Volkmar, F. (2008). Supporting more able students on the autism spectrum: College and beyond. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 38(7), 1359-1370.
Abstract: In the 1990’s a surge of children were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and are now approaching college age. Through early diagnosis and intervention many of these children are now able to consider post secondary education. However, these students will need specific interventions and supports in order to be successful. This article reviews the nosology of ASDs, the legal basis for providing accommodations to students on the autism spectrum, and the incidence and prevalence of ASDs. The authors provide specific recommendations regarding the academic, independent living, social, vocational and counseling needs of college students who are on the autism spectrum. With a carefully planned transition, appropriate accommodations, and support, ASD students can be successful academically and socially in college.
Evaluating the college transition needs of individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders
Adreon, D., & Durocher, J. S. (2007) Evaluating the college transition needs of individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 42(5), 271-279. *121
Abstract: Increased attention has been given recently to the needs of students with learning and developmental disabilities who are transitioning from high school to college. This is especially important for students with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders (ASD), who are likely to experience significant and unique challenges in adjusting to postsecondary educational settings. After an overview of diagnostic criteria, symptom presentation, and treatment approaches for high-functioning students with ASD, this article discusses the type of difficulties students may encounter across various domains, including socialization, communication, independent daily living skills, academic functioning, and self-advocacy. The article concludes with recommendations for areas to be evaluated and addressed when determining the supports students with high-functioning ASD need to succeed in meeting the organizational, academic, and social demands of college life.