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Service Transitions among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Aging from adolescence to adulthood is a challenging developmental period for all youth, but it is especially difficult for youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs).

Just when these youth need help the most, they face three major service transitions: loss of entitlement for services as they age out of eligibility for special education; potential loss of health insurance coverage as they age out of eligibility for their parents' private insurance or public insurance programs; and the shift to adult services systems.

The prevalence of ASDs is approximately 70 per 10,000, affecting an estimated 560,000 children and youth ages 0-21. Timely access to appropriate and well coordinated services has the potential to improve health, mental health, functional outcomes, and quality of life in adulthood, thereby reducing the public health burden of disease. Recently, Dr. Paul Shattuck received funding for a new project titled “Service Transitions among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders”. This project aims to address three specific aims in regards to Autism Spectrum Disorders:

  1. To characterize the changing service needs, service use, and health insurance coverage as adolescents with ASDs age into youth adulthood

  2. To discover resources and barriers associated with use of, and continuity in patterns of service utilization

  3. To characterize young adult outcomes and examine how these are associated with antecedent measures of need, service use, resources and barriers.