Postsecondary Expectations of High-School Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl. 2016;31(1):16-26. doi: 10.1177/1088357615610107. Epub 2015 Oct 6.


This study examined the perceptions of adulthood among 31 high school students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We had two research aims: (1) to report students' postsecondary expectations in terms of school, work, friendships and living arrangement and (2) to describe how our sample defined adulthood. To better compare our sample's criteria of adulthood to the criteria traditionally endorsed in secondary schools, we used a directed content analysis approach. Data were derived from a semi-structured interview that questioned students about friendships, activities and the transition to adulthood. The majority of students expected to attain traditional markers of adulthood after high school; however, for some the pathways to achieving these outcomes were narrowly defined and perceived as a rigid, linear process. Independence, maturity and personal responsibility were the most highly endorsed characteristics of adulthood, followed by chronological age and traditional markers. Implications for transition planning and adult services are discussed.

Keywords: adolescence; autism; emerging adulthood; transition.