Adults with ASD

Guertz, H.M. & Vissers, M.E. (2012). Elderly with autism: Executive functions and memory. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 665-675.

This study examines cognitive functions in elderly individuals with ASD. Despite the widely held belief that ASD is a life-long condition, there are very few studies available that examine the elderly population. The authors of this study suggest that the developmental trajectory of those with ASD differs from their typical peers. Cognitive deficits were observed in several domains including attention, working memory, and fluency, as well as differences with visual memory performance. This study also suggests that challenges with planning and flexibility, challenges often seen in children with ASD, are not found in the elderly with ASD, and implies that adults with ASD are able to ‘catch up’ with their typically developing peers in this area. The study has several limitations including a small sample size and recruits being individuals who were diagnosed with high functioning ASD as an adult. Future research into the cognitive processes and abilities of the elderly with ASD is clearly needed in order to better understand the needs and abilities of this group.

Hendricks, D. (2010). Employment and adults with autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and strategies for success. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(2), 125-134.

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have the ability and desire to work, but there are still several obstructions. Research overwhelmingly demonstrates disappointing employment outcomes for this group. The vast majority is unemployed and for those who do have gainful employment, underemployment is common. The increased prevalence of ASD coupled with unique social, communication, and behavioral characteristics translate into the need for services to help them achieve employment success. Consideration of individual characteristics including strengths, needs, as well as specific interests, coupled with implementation of proper supports can result in successful and ongoing employment. This paper provides a review of evidence based research related to employment for individuals with ASD. Specific areas addressed include benefits of employment, state of employment, obstacles to employment, current service options, and an in depth review of supports needed for success. These supports focus not only on job tasks, but also the interpersonal skills needed to foster a positive work experience.

Levy, A., & Perry, A. (2011). Outcomes in adolescents and adults with autism: A review of the literature. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, retrieved online 07/30/2013.

This review examines the current body of research into the progress of individuals with ASD as they move from childhood into adulthood. Few studies have been done with a focus on adulthood and the prognosis of individuals with ASD; however, those studies reviewed for this article focused on diagnostic severity, cognitive functioning, language and academic performance, behavior functioning and social outcomes. The authors suggest that the few current studies available do demonstrate that individual progress varies greatly with co-morbidity presenting the greatest challenges. The authors also note that outcomes from adults with Asperger’s Syndrome cannot be applied to individuals with more severe impairments. It is important to note that this review does suggest that life expectancy is slightly reduced despite fewer risk factors. Co-morbid health conditions such as epilepsy may be contributing to this problem.

Schall, C. & McDonough, J. (2010). Autism spectrum disorders in adolescence and early adulthood: Characteristics and issues. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(2), 81-88.

Much has been written about the diagnostic characteristics that distinguish autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from other disorders of childhood for toddlers and elementary school age children. There is a paucity of description of the characteristics and needs of youth and young adults with ASD. This paper presents a description of the characteristics of ASD in adolescence and young adulthood and presents three case studies to illuminate the issues confronting individuals with ASD, their families and support providers.