Transition to adult services and adulthood for young people with autistic spectrum conditions

Transition reportMany young adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) fail to achieve their potential outcomes in the early years after leaving full-time education. Access to transition support and appropriate services within the adult sector are key issues.

This report presents findings of a study that explored ways in which young people with ASC (including those with high functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome) are supported over the transition period and into young adulthood. It also sought to understand and describe the experiences of young adults and their parents during this period.


Key findings

  • Some localities had developed systems which ensured all young people with a diagnosis of ASC were supported in preparing for and planning leaving school.
  • College careers could be foreshortened because mainstream colleges struggled to support young people with ASC, particularly managing behavioural issues.
  • Young people and their families lacked autism-specific advice and support as they anticipated leaving further education.
  • The absence of any meaningful daytime occupation, and the increased vulnerabilities associated with greater independence, were enormous worries for parents.
  • A lack of appropriate employment opportunities and insufficient (specialist) support to gain and maintain employment, were key barriers to paid work.
  • Young adults endorsed the benefits of autism-specific, preventive or ‘low intensity’ support. Peer support opportunities were highly valued.
  • Parents found themselves, often reluctantly, assuming a key-worker role. They felt unskilled and uninformed in this role.

Reference: Beresford, B., Moran, N., Sloper, P., Cusworth, L., Mitchell, W., Spiers, G., Weston, K. and Beecham, J. (2013) Transition to Adult Services and Adulthood for Young People with Autistic Spectrum Conditions, Working Paper, no: DH 2525, Social Policy Research Unit, University of York, York.