In this March 2011 photo provided by Jeff Martin, Ian Wells sits on a bicycle in North Hanover, N.J. Wells, 21, of Allentown, N.J., has autism and has had trouble finding paid employment. A study being published Monday in Pediatrics says 1 in 3 young adul
Updated: June 15, 2012 10:51AM
One in three young adults with autism have no paid job experience, college or technical school nearly seven years after high school graduation, a new study finds.
With roughly half a million autistic kids reaching adulthood in the next decade, experts say it’s an issue policymakers urgently need to address.
The study was done well before unemployment peaked from the recession. The situation today is tough even for young adults who don’t have such limitations.
The study, published online Monday in Pediatrics, was based on data from 2007-08. It found that within two years of leaving high school, more than half of those with autism had no job experience, college or technical education.
Things improved as they got older. Yet nearly seven years after high school, 35 percent of autistic young adults still had no paid employment or education beyond high school.
Those figures compare with 26 percent of mentally disabled young adults, 7 percent of young adults with speech and language problems, and 3 percent of those with learning disabilities.
The researchers analyzed data from about 2,000 young adults with one of four types of disabilities, including 500 with autism.
“There is this wave of young children who have been diagnosed with autism who are aging toward adulthood.,” said lead author Paul Shattuck of Washington University in St. Louis. “We’re kind of setting ourselves up for a scary situation if we don’t think about that and how we’re going to help these folks and their families.”