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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2013 Sep;52(9):931-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2013.05.019. Epub 2013 Jul 31.

Postsecondary employment experiences among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder.

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George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, MO 086489, USA.



We examined postsecondary employment experiences of young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and compared these outcomes with those of young adults with different disabilities.


Data were from Wave 5 of the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), a nationally representative survey of young adults who had received special education services during high school. We examined the prevalence of ever having had, and currently having, a paid job at 21 to 25 years of age. We analyzed rates of full-time employment, wages earned, number of jobs held since high school, and job types.


Approximately one-half (53.4%) of young adults with an ASD had ever worked for pay outside the home since leaving high school, the lowest rate among disability groups. Young adults with an ASD earned an average of $8.10 per hour, significantly lower than average wages for young adults in the comparison groups, and held jobs that clustered within fewer occupational types. Odds of ever having had a paid job were higher for those who were older, from higher-income households, and with better conversational abilities or functional skills.


Findings of worse employment outcomes for young adults with an ASD suggest that this population is experiencing particular difficulty in successfully transitioning into employment. Research is needed to determine strategies for improving outcomes as these young adults transition into adulthood.


adolescent; autism; employment; outcomes; young adult

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