Driven to Improve Adult Lives
April 11, 2018
Dr. Paul Shattuck’s research seeks to understand the service needs of adults with autism, and the range of health and social outcomes they typically experience. His work explores indicators related to employment, education, services and social participation — going far beyond theory to find practical applications.
This work covers largely uncharted waters in autism research. The “life course” approach looks at the roles an individual assumes and the services systems an individual interacts with over their entire life span. The experiences of receiving a diagnosis, accessing needed services, transitioning into adulthood, finding employment, continuing education and participating in the community are all vital stepping stones on the path to a high-quality life.
“The national statistics we produce about things like employment, health and educational outcomes shape our understanding of where we need to improve efforts to help people on the autism spectrum. We build the gauges to see if the billions spent on research and services are moving the needle on these outcomes. Our work is routinely used by members of Congress, business leaders, advocacy organizations, families, schools and state agency directors to know where problem-solving efforts need to be directed. Our statistics and indicators reveal the scope and magnitude of problems facing people on the autism spectrum and whether we are making progress toward improving outcomes as a nation. Community and population-level statistics are an essential counterbalance to research that develops interventions. It’s not enough to know whether a technique creates an effect in a tightly controlled setting. We also need to know if things are getting better or worse for the entire population,” says Dr. Paul Shattuck.