_CULTURE SOCIETY Autism

_Work on the Spectrum

Very few adults on the autism spectrum who use developmental disability services are employed in paid jobs in the community.

_Paul Shattuck

Shattuck is an associate professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health and director of the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute’s Life Course Outcomes program.

_Anne Roux

Roux is a research scientist for the Autism Institute’s Life Course Outcomes program.

A quarter of adults with autism who use developmental disability services are not working or participating in other structured activities during the day, with only 14 percent holding a paying job in the community, according to research from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute.

Since 2015, the institute has produced a National Autism Indicators Report. The past two reports showed that adults with autism have difficulty transitioning into jobs.

“Billions are spent each year on services for people on the autism spectrum,” says Paul Shattuck, associate professor in the Dornsife School of Public Health and director of the Autism Institute’s Life Course Outcomes program, which produces the annual reports. “Relatively little is spent trying to understand the types and amount of services people need, as well as the services they actually end up getting or the outcomes of them.”

ADULTS with ASD who
received DD services

27%

had no work or activity

14%

had a paid job in the community

For the 2017 report, Anne Roux, a research scientist on Shattuck’s team, led a group that looked at data from 3,500 adults with autism who used developmental disability services and took the 2014–15 National Core Indicators Adult Consumer Survey. This is a survey used by some states use to monitor the effectiveness of their services.

In addition, the research team found that 25 percent did not feel they were receiving all of the services they needed.

“This dovetails with our team’s earlier reports on the ‘services cliff’ that transition-age youth encounter when they leave special education but have difficulty accessing services they may need to become employed, continue their education, or live more independently,” Roux says.