After High School, Teens with Autism Struggle

Autism is linked to higher risk of unemployment and not going to college

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Schools offer many programs to help children with autism succeed.  After high school, teens with autism may struggle to move on to other activities, like college or work.

New research shows that children with autism were more likely to be unemployed and not go to college than children with other learning difficulties.

The transition between high school and adulthood for children with autism may need special attention.

"Talk to your child’s school counselor to find help."

A recent study, led by Paul Shattuck, PhD, of Washington University, looked at the rates of employment and college attendance for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and children with other learning difficulties.

The researchers looked at data collected by the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 (NLTS2), which is a 10-year study by the US Department of Education following youth who were in special education.

They found that in the first six years after high school 34.7 percent of youth with ASD had attended some college and 55.1 percent had paid employment. 

When they looked at youth with ASD who had left high school in the past two years, they found that over 50 percent of them had not attended college or had paid employment.

Compared to other learning difficulties, ASD had the highest rates of unemployment.

The researchers conclude that children with ASD are at risk for having trouble transitioning from high school to other productive activities, especially in the first two years after high school. They urge researchers to find ways to help these children with the transition into adulthood.

The study was published online ahead of print for the June issue of Pediatrics. The research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Speaks, and Autism Research. No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 14, 2012
Last Updated:
July 12, 2012