Autism Spectrum Disorder in Teenagers & Adults

A greater number of children identified with ASD has led to a growing interest in the transition to adolescence and adulthood. For most young people, including those with ASD, adolescence and young adulthood are filled with new challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities. However, research suggests fewer young people with ASD have the same opportunities as their peers without ASD.

  • High rates of unemployment or under-employment [1-7]
  • Low participation in education beyond high school [4, 7, 8]
  • Majority continue to live with family members or relatives [1, 9]
  • Limited opportunity for community or social activities—nearly 40% spend little or no time with friends [6, 10-12]

In addition, individuals with ASD may experience changes in their ASD symptoms, behaviors, and co-occurring health conditions during adolescence and young adulthood. These changes can affect their ability to function and participate in the community.

CDC’s Work for Adults with ASD

Planning for Service Needs

CDC’s most recent funding cycle for the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network includes support for five sites to follow up on 16-year-olds who had been identified with ASD by 8 years of age. This is a new activity for the ADDM Network and will provide valuable information on transition planning in special education services and potential service needs after high school.

Promoting Better Outcomes

CDC’s Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) began identifying children with ASD in the mid-2000s and these children are now beginning the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Through SEED Teen, CDC is tracking the changes that occur during this transition period to learn about factors that may promote more successful transitions and better outcomes in young adults with ASD.


  1. Levy, A. and A. Perry, Outcomes in adolescents and adults with autism: A review of the literature. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2011. 5(4): p. 1271-1282.
  2. Taylor, J.L. and M.M. Seltzer, Employment and post-secondary educational activities for young adults with autism spectrum disorders during the transition to adulthood. J Autism Dev Disord, 2011. 41(5): p. 566-74.
  3. Shattuck, P.T., et al., A National Research Agenda for the Transition of Youth With Autism. Pediatrics, 2018. 141: p. s355-s361.
  4. Shattuck, P.T., et al., Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics, 2012. 129(6): p. 1042-9.
  5. Roux, A.M., et al., National Autism Indicators Report: Transition into Young Adulthood. 2015, A. J. Drexel Autism Institute: Philadelphia, PA.
  6. Kirby, A.V., Parent Expectations Mediate Outcomes for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord, 2016. 46(5): p. 1643-55.
  7. Roux, A.M., et al., Postsecondary employment experiences among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry, 2013. 52(9): p. 931-9.
  8. Hendricks, D.R. and P. Wehman, Transition From School to Adulthood for Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 2009. 24(2): p. 77-88.
  9. Dudley, K.M., et al., Understanding Service Usage and Needs for Adults with ASD: The Importance of Living Situation. J Autism Dev Disord, 2019. 49(2): p. 556-568.
  10. Liptak, G.S., N.P. Kennedy Ja Fau – Dosa, and N.P. Dosa, Social participation in a nationally representative sample of older youth and young adults with autism. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2011. 32(4): p. 277-283.
  11. DaWalt, L.S., et al., Friendships and social participation as markers of quality of life of adolescents and adults with fragile X syndrome and autism. Autism, 2019. 23(2): p. 383-393.
  12. Orsmond, G.I., et al., Social participation among young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 2013. 43(11): p. 2710-2719.
2023 Community Report on Autism. The latest ADDM Network Data