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National Autism Indicators Report: Transition Into Young Adulthood

The National Autism Indicators Report is a publication series produced by the AJ Drexel Autism Institute's Life Course Outcomes Research Program. The inaugural volume of this report focuses on the transition into young adulthood. We present evidence about a wide range of experiences and outcomes of young adults on the autism spectrum between high school and their early 20s.

This report is responsive to the call in the Autism Collaboration, Accountability, Research, Education, and Support Act of 2014 (or the Autism CARES Act of 2014) for more research on transition.

Where did the information come from?

Findings are from our analyses of national-level data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) and the Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services.

What will I find in this report?

The report covers a variety of transition-related outcomes for young adults on the autism spectrum. Some of the questions we asked included:

Transition Planning

How many youth with autism received transition planning by the federally required age?


What kinds of services have young adults with autism received since leaving high school? What kinds of services do they need?

Adult Outcomes and Disconnection

When youth do not get a job or continue their education after high school, they are referred to as disconnected.  How do young adults fare in the first years after high school? How many are disconnected from both work and education?

Health and Mental Health

In most cases, youth with autism have at least one additional health or mental health condition. Dealing with these challenges complicates the transition into adulthood. How many have additional health and mental health challenges? What types? 

Postsecondary Education

How many have ever attended any type of school beyond high school? What types of educational programs did they attend? How many received accommodations or services?


How many have ever held a job for pay outside the home since high school? How many are employed full-time versus part-time, at what rate of pay, and in what types of jobs?

Living Arrangements

Where have youth ever lived since high school? How many have ever lived independently?

Social and Community Participation

What kinds of social and community activities do young adults participate in? How many young adults are socially isolated?

Safety and Risk

How many are victims of bullying during high school? How many tend to wander off with risk of becoming lost? What is the rate of criminal justice involvement? What other health risk behaviors do autistic young adults report?


There is very little research published concerning how people with autism do in the adult portion of their lifespans. We analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 and the Survey of Pathways to Diagnosis and Services to examine the service needs and life outcomes of adolescents and young adults on the autism spectrum. This report describes the prevalence of a wide variety of indicators related to transition planning, services access, unmet needs, employment, postsecondary education, living arrangements, social participation, and safety and risk.

How to cite this report

Roux, Anne M., Shattuck, Paul T., Rast, Jessica E., Rava, Julianna A., and Anderson, Kristy, A.  National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Life Course Outcomes Research Program, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, 2015.

©2015 Drexel University and the authors. All rights reserved. The publication may be copied and disseminated in part or whole as long as appropriate acknowledgement and citation is given.

For more information about the National Autism Indicators Report, email