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Young male patient with doctor

Start early to prepare youths with autism for adulthood

July 1, 2022

Youths with autism spectrum disorder often have a hard time when things change. As they get older, they will face many changes. Life will be different after high school. They will have more legal responsibilities when they turn 18. And there will be changes in medical care.

Parents and caregivers can help their child with autism start preparing for adulthood around age 12. This is when hormones cause body changes. Youths also might change schools and have new responsibilities.

Pediatricians can support parents and teens along the way. They can work with parents to help their child learn skills like making a doctor’s appointment, filling prescriptions and making medical decisions. Your pediatrician also can help find an adult health care specialist and provide resources to create plans for the future.

One trusted resource to help all youths move from pediatric to adult health care is The website has videos and handouts to help youths take responsibility for their health care. It also has a timeline that lists the ages when youths might be able to start learning new skills. Examples include:

  • Learn about your health condition, medications and allergies (ages 12-13).
  • Start seeing the doctor alone for part of the visit to help gain independence in managing your health and health care (ages 14-15).
  • Make doctor’s appointments (ages 16-17).
  • Work with your doctor to find a new adult doctor, if needed (ages 18-21).

For more information on how to help teens transition from their pediatrician to a doctor who cares for adults, visit

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