We examined the prevalence and correlates of postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Data were from a nationally representative survey of parents, guardians, and young adults with an ASD. Participation in postsecondary employment, college, or vocational education and lack of participation in any of these activities were examined. Rates were compared with those of youth in 3 other eligibility categories: speech/language impairment, learning disability, and mental retardation. Logistic regression was used to examine correlates of each outcome.
For youth with an ASD, 34.7% had attended college and 55.1% had held paid employment during the first 6 years after high school. More than 50% of youth who had left high school in the past 2 years had no participation in employment or education. Youth with an ASD had the lowest rates of participation in employment and the highest rates of no participation compared with youth in other disability categories. Higher income and higher functional ability were associated with higher adjusted odds of participation in postsecondary employment and education.
Youth with an ASD have poor postsecondary employment and education outcomes, especially in the first 2 years after high school. Those from lower-income families and those with greater functional impairments are at heightened risk for poor outcomes. Further research is needed to understand how transition planning before high school exit can facilitate a better connection to productive postsecondary activities.