Nav: Home

Adulthood with autism

December 19, 2019

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The independence that comes with growing up can be scary for any teenager, but for young adults with autism spectrum disorder and their caregivers, the transition from adolescence to adulthood can seem particularly daunting. Tasks such as managing one's own health insurance or applying for a car loan can be especially challenging for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri are working on improving independence for people with autism by setting personalized goals early in adolescence and providing opportunities to achieve those goals. In the new study, Nancy Cheak-Zamora, associate professor in the MU Department of Health Sciences, School of Health Professions, and researcher at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders, measured the self-determination of young adults with autism to better assist their transition to adulthood.

"We found that there was a disconnect between the support the caregivers are providing and what the young adults are doing themselves to become more independent," Cheak-Zamora said. "We need to allow adolescents, particularly those with disabilities, to take on greater responsibilities at an earlier age and raise their expectations by first asking them about their goals and then providing the resources and support systems to help them achieve those goals."

Cheak-Zamora partnered with five autism clinics across the country to survey more than 500 caregivers of young adults with autism between the ages of 16 and 25. She worked with undergraduate and graduate students to analyze the results and found that many young adults with autism are struggling to achieve independence.

Cheak-Zamora explained that increasing self-determination for young adults with autism starts with shifting the perception about what individuals with developmental disabilities can achieve.

"As a society it would be helpful to move away from a focus on deficits and challenges that people with autism and other disabilities face to considering their strengths and skill set. We can then develop ways to help each person build on their strengths," Cheak-Zamora said. "For example, many with autism are incredibly detail-oriented. So, let's think about job opportunities that require very detailed work so they can use that skill as an asset to succeed in employment. Not only will the individual benefit, but society as a whole will as well."

Cheak-Zamora recommends that parents and caregivers provide all adolescents, including those with developmental disabilities, with opportunities to experience mastering a task, such as cooking, shopping, managing money or driving.
-end-
The study, "Self-determination in young adults with autism spectrum disorder," was published in Autism. Funding was provided by the United States Department of Defense IDEA Development Award. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agency.

University of Missouri-Columbia

Related Autism Articles:

Adulthood with autism
The independence that comes with growing up can be scary for any teenager, but for young adults with autism spectrum disorder and their caregivers, the transition from adolescence to adulthood can seem particularly daunting.
Brain protein mutation from child with autism causes autism-like behavioral change in mice
A de novo gene mutation that encodes a brain protein in a child with autism has been placed into the brains of mice.
Autism and theory of mind
Theory of mind, or the ability to represent other people's minds as distinct from one's own, can be difficult for people with autism.
Potential biomarker for autism
A study of young children with autism spectrum disorder published in JNeurosci reveals altered brain waves compared to typically developing children during a motor control task.
Autism and the smell of fear
Autism typically involves the inability to read social cues. We most often associate this with visual difficulty in interpreting facial expression, but new research at the Weizmann Institute of Science suggests that the sense of smell may also play a central role in autism.
Autism often associated with multiple new mutations
Most autism cases are in families with no previous history of the disorder.
State laws requiring autism coverage by private insurers led to increases in autism care
A new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has found that the enactment of state laws mandating coverage of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) was followed by sizable increases in insurer-covered ASD care and associated spending.
Autism's gender patterns
Having one child with autism is a well-known risk factor for having another one with the same disorder, but whether and how a sibling's gender influences this risk has remained largely unknown.
Pinpointing the origins of autism
The origins of autism remain mysterious. What areas of the brain are involved, and when do the first signs appear?
Genes, ozone, and autism
Exposure to ozone in the environment puts individuals with high levels of genetic variation at an even higher risk for developing autism than would be expected just by adding the two risk factors together, a new analysis shows.
More Autism News and Autism Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Clint Smith
The killing of George Floyd by a police officer has sparked massive protests nationwide. This hour, writer and scholar Clint Smith reflects on this moment, through conversation, letters, and poetry.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.