Measuring Outcomes for Youth with Autism After High School
April 11, 2018
Dr. Collette Sosnowy recently completed a qualitative study called “Measuring What Matters” about outcomes after high school for young adults with autism. “While quantitative research about youth and adult outcomes, such as surveys, provides a birds-eye view of observed trends in the autism population, qualitative research can provide context for these observations,” she says. Dr. Sosnowy and her team conducted in-depth interviews with young adults on the spectrum, as well as their parents, asking about their experiences transitioning out of high school, current activities, hopes and expectations for the future, and what they need to help them succeed.
Her study has illustrated that young adults, parents and service providers view outcomes as complex, dynamic concepts rather than fixed indicators. For many young adults, there are limited services following high school. Participants said that services that were available often were not the right fit for a young adults’ needs. The most effective services were those that could be individualized for the young adult and young adults with autism, parents and service providers employed a number of informal strategies to fill in gaps.
With a half million people on the spectrum aging into adulthood over the next decade, it’s important to understand the specific challenges for this unique and diverse population. This research can identify factors to target for improvement, ultimately informing policies and practices that help youth and young adults with autism thrive and achieve their goals.