The Health Care Transitions Research Network for Autism Spectrum Disorder and other Developmental Disabilities and the Life Course Research Network, both funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, invited articles for this Supplement. Our goal in this Supplement is to highlight and explore developmental and transition-related challenges over the life course of individuals on the autism spectrum and other neurodevelopmental disabilities, discuss the clinical and practice implications of these issues, highlight gaps in knowledge, and identify directions for future research.
OBJECTIVES: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are reported to experience significant challenges during the transition to adulthood. Although recent evidence indicates that individuals with ASD experience poor outcomes in adulthood, little is understood about the contributing factors. In this qualitative study, we investigated the barriers to and needs in research and practice in the transition to adulthood among individuals with ASD. METHODS: Thirteen researchers, including service providers, family members, and an individual with ASD participated in 30- to 60-minute, semistructured, open-ended telephone interviews. Interviews were transcribed, and data were analyzed by using an inductive approach to identify themes related to barriers to and needs in the transition to adulthood for youth with ASD. RESULTS: Stakeholders identified the need for transition planning and preparation to begin earlier and for systems to better accommodate the interests and varying abilities of individuals with ASD. Stakeholders also felt that parent and service provider expectations and perceptions influence early opportunities and experiences offered throughout the transition process. CONCLUSIONS: This study reveals the multilevel barriers to and needs in the transition to adulthood and the need for interagency and multidisciplinary collaboration and research to address the varying levels of needs, abilities, and multisector challenges.