Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Key points

  • For many people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families, daily life is not easy.
  • Finding resources and planning for the future can help families improve their quality of life.
Man with a disability smiling

How ASD impacts everyday life

Living with a person with ASD affects the entire family. Meeting the complex needs of a person with ASD can put families under a great deal of stress—emotional, financial, and sometimes even physical. Respite care can give parents and other family caregivers a needed break and help maintain family well-being.


The transition from high school to adulthood can be especially challenging for a person with ASD. There are many important, life-changing decisions to make, such as whether to go to college or a vocational school or whether to enter the workforce, and if so, how and where.

It is important to begin thinking about this transition in childhood, so that educational transition plans are put in place—preferably by age 14, but no later than age 16—to make sure the individual has the skills he or she needs to begin the next phase of life.

Father speaking with son on bench
Transitioning from high school to adulthood can be especially challenging for adolescents and young adults with ASD.

The transition of care from a pediatrician to a doctor who treats adults is another area that needs a plan. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends transition planning for all adolescents starting at age 12 years that includes the healthcare provider speaking with the adolescent separate from family members, discussing the transition to adult care, and coaching the adolescent in taking charge of their own care.

Additional Resources for Transitioning to Adulthood

Healthy living

To stay healthy, people with disabilities need the same basic health care as everyone else. They need to eat well, exercise, get enough rest and plenty of water, and have complete access to care, including regular physical and dental check-ups. It is important to find healthcare providers who are comfortable caring for people with ASD.

Sometimes when people with disabilities have a behavioral change or behavioral issue, it may be because they have a medical problem they cannot describe. For instance, head banging could be related to a disability, or it could be due to a headache or toothache. For this reason, it is important to find out if there is a physical problem before making changes in a person's treatment or therapy.

Physical activity


Safety is important for everyone. We all need to be safe in order to live full and productive lives. People with disabilities can be at higher risk for injuries and abuse. People with disabilities can be at higher risk for injuries and abuse. It is important for parents and other family members to teach their loved one how to stay safe and what to do if they feel threatened or have been hurt in any way.

Safety Tip‎

It can sometimes be helpful to give a person with a disability a bracelet or other item that has their name, address, phone number, and disability on it in case they get lost.

Resources and support

father with child on shoulders laughing
Find more resources to help you and those you care for.

Disability services | USAGov

This comprehensive online resource offers people with disabilities quick and easy access to the information they need. Users can find information and programs available across the government on numerous subjects, including benefits, civil rights, community life, education, employment, housing, health, technology, and transportation.

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A partnership of federal agencies, this service provides improved, personalized access to government assistance programs, helping families and people with disabilities determine if there are government benefits they can receive.

Association for University Centers on Disability (AUCD)

AUCD's University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities Education, Research, and Service (UCEDD) work to accomplish a shared vision of a nation in which all Americans, including those with disabilities, participate fully in their communities. Visit the UCEDD Directory.