Webinar: Outcomes for Adults on the Autism Spectrum - Putting the Research in Context

Date: 04/2016

Valerie Bradley and Ari Ne’eman (president and co-founder of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network) recently presented a webinar entitled “National Core Indicators and Autism Spectrum Disorder: Putting the Data in Context.” Sharing NCI data on demographic characteristics and outcomes for adults on the autism spectrum who receive services from state I/DD systems, they provide policy and research recommendations that address the need for services and supports that encourage inclusion, integration, autonomy and decision-making, productivity, and independence.

The nature of public services and supports for individuals with I/DD generally and autistic individuals* specifically has changed in the past half century. Legislation such as the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – as well as other laws, rules, decisions of the Supreme Court and other federal courts, and findings, services, and supports – has contributed to the improvement of the quality of life for autistic individuals.  These reforms have resulted in the growth of community-based settings that aim to encourage “full inclusion and integration in the economic, political, social, cultural and educational mainstream of American society” (Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended, 29U.S.C.794). 

However, autistic people do not appear to have benefited from these sweeping changes to the same extent as those without an ASD diagnosis.  Previous research has shown that autistic individuals have poorer adult life outcomes in areas such as independent living, employment, relationships, and community inclusion. These negative outcomes are likely related in part to functional impairments in communication and social interaction. Research has shown that formal supports that are individualized and comprehensive are related to quality of life for autistic adults; however, there are disparities in access to such supports.

Despite the growth in demand and delivery of these supports, there are significant gaps in understanding the role that services and supports play in facilitating person-centered outcomes.  To understand how to best design services and supports for autistic people, the differences in their outcomes and the potential causes must be examined. 

To watch the webinar, please use the following links:

Part 1

Part 2

*Within the autism and Autistic communities, a wide variety of different linguistic preferences exist, with many individuals on the autism spectrum preferring the use of “identity-first” language rather than “person-first”. Within this webinar, we will alternate between “person on the autism spectrum” and “autistic person”. See http://autisticadvocacy.org/home/about-asan/identity-first-language/ for more details.

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