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Research Program in Life Course Outcomes


People on the autism spectrum are valuable members of our communities. They have roles to play, dreams to achieve, and contributions to make.

There is an urgent need for understanding how life unfolds across the lifespan for people on the autism spectrum. Medical and clinical interventions are vital. But we must also learn about the experiences that help or hinder quality of life for people on the autism spectrum, their families, and our communities. Experiences such as transition into adulthood, employment and continued education, living arrangements, and community participation are understudied. Families need this information to make better plans and decisions.  Grassroots organizations need this information to raise awareness about problems and build support for solutions. Service providers need this information to address unmet needs, plan and evaluate programs, and justify funding. Policy makers and funders need credible data to understand the needs of constituents, allocate resources, and measure impact.

Life Course Outcomes Programs

Social Dynamics of Intervention Lab (SoDI Lab)
The Social Dynamics of Intervention Lab (SoDI Lab) works to understand, predict, and manipulate the social ecosystem of people on the autism spectrum and their life course outcomes. To learn more, visit Social Networks and Autism.

Social Connections and Treatment Lab (SCTL)
The Social Connections and Treatment Lab (SCTL) works to understand how autistic and other neurodivergent youth form connections and to improve understanding, care, and support for autistic individuals. To learn more, visit SCTL.

Transition Pathways
Transition Pathways convenes partnerships with schools, organizations, businesses, and community stakeholders to develop innovative approaches to help young adults on the autism spectrum achieve a successful transition to adulthood. To learn more, visit Transition Pathways.

Life Course Outcomes Research Program Mission and Goals

The Life Course Outcomes Research Program:
  • Produces research, interventions, programs, supports, tools, social networks, and ecosystems that improve understanding of what counts as “good life course outcomes” for autistic people across all ages and life experiences, and seeks to maximize those outcomes.

  • Engages relevant community partners (autistic individuals, families, providers, employers) in the development, implementation, and evaluation of all Life Course Outcomes initiatives and research.

  • Applies an intersectional approach that recognizes the diversity of experience among autistic people.

  • Works to maximize direct impact, prioritizing what autistic individuals, their families, and their communities value and need, with a focus on reducing stigma and barriers to success.

  • We envision

    • a future where all autistic people are able to thrive in their communities, feel empowered to make decisions about their lives, and pursue personally meaningful goals and outcomes across the lifespan.

    • a world where the autistic community leads and guides priorities and actions in autism research, services, and programs.

Interconnected Initiatives

Independence and quality of life have many interconnected parts: family well-being, mental & physical health, financial well-being, housing, employment, social participation, college and vocational training. It is difficult to improve just one without paying attention to the others at the same time. We need a holistic approach.

We will foster holistic, widespread, and sustainable improvement by building related initiatives. Each initiative is comprised of multiple subprojects.

Promising Practices Initiative: Examining innovative approaches for creating positive outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum.

The Promising Practices Initiative is examining programs and policies with the potential for scalability and replication across the country. Some of the areas we’re looking at are postsecondary education, transition to independent living/housing, and corporate-sponsored employment programs.

Research Leadership Initiative: Expanding the field of useful research by training additional scholars.

The Research Leadership Initiative is launching programs to train and mentor the next generation of applied researchers studying autism. The initiative is also launching a guest speaker series that features international leaders sharing their expertise on autism.

Long-Range Studies Initiative: Conducting large-scale studies that discover how life unfolds over a long period of time for people on the autism spectrum and their families.

The Long-Range Studies Initiative has begun projects involving adolescents and adults on the autism spectrum, and their families.