Transitioning to independence during young adulthood is a pivotal and challenging time for everyone. For young adults with special needs, this transition period of new challenges can be particularly difficult. People with special needs, such as autism spectrum disorders or learning disabilities, may have social and communicative deficits which may impact their ability to successfully advocate for themselves. Having evidence-based, structured supports, is a necessity for the many teens and young adults who need more skills in these areas.

According to The Current State of Services for Adults with Autism report conducted by the New York Center for Autism, 70% of those with autism in the U.S. are under fourteen years of age, and will be approaching transition age before we know it. Considering this large aging special needs population, it is important that we are well-prepared to support these youth in gaining employment, so that they can contribute to their communities in a way that is meaningful for them.

There are many concerns with the current state of employment services in the United States, here are just a few: poorly implemented evidence-based approaches, in part due to a shortage of qualified well-trained staff;  limited or non-existent collaboration among key stakeholders; and a lack of research and understanding regarding the career and job experiences of these youth. Some suggest that part of the solution is to develop and provide personalized education and training programs to accommodate the needs of workers with disabilities. There are some
promising programs
developing, but the New York Center for Autism suggests that funding and accessibility for many of these promising programs is not yet up to par.

There is certainly hope for the oncoming wave of workers with special needs who may need assistance during the transition into adulthood, but it is important that we continue to bring our concerns to the forefront and work together to find a solution.

Consider attending our
DisAbility Summit
on May 3rd, 2016 to learn more about the Thompson Policy Institute’s research on Autism in the Workplace and find out how you can become part of the solution.

Group of hands touching in the center.