Autistic Youth Coming of Age

13 Aug

Here’s what I call a good use of stimulus money in the US. Dr. Paul Shattuck of Washington University in St. Louis has a NIMH grant to study adolescents with diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds.

The study will focus on

Outlining changes in service needs, service use, and health insurance coverage as youths with ASD enter adulthood

Identifying resources and barriers associated with use of, and continuity in, health care and other services

Detailing young adult outcomes (such as employment, housing, independent living, health, and community participation) and examining how these may be linked with prior measures of need, service use, resources, and barriers.

This is the kind of study that can really help autistic adolescents and young adults.

This is the kind of study those of us with young children need to see.

By the way, I am only assuming the funding for this project came from the Stimulus package funding. Either way, it is a good research topic. I have a lot of respect for Dr. Shattuck at Washington University.

2 Responses to “Autistic Youth Coming of Age”

  1. Paul Shattuck August 14, 2009 at 16:19 #


    Thank you for your kind comments about this work and all the effort you exert to maintain LBRB. A point of clarification: this is not a stimulus-funded project. I submitted this proposal in the Fall of 2008 which was before the stimulus funding became available. It is extremely gratifying to see it get funded and we are now setting up our project workshop so we can begin analyzing data (we are not recruiting new participants, but are examining data already collected).

    Aging from adolescence to adulthood is a challenging developmental period for all youth, but it is especially difficult for youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). Just when these youth need help the most, they face three major service transitions: loss of entitlement for services as they age out of eligibility for special education; potential loss of health insurance coverage as they age out of eligibility for their parents’ private insurance or public insurance programs; and the shift to adult services systems.

    Very little is known about how service use and insurance coverage change as youth with autism spectrum disorders age into adulthood or how these patterns of change are related to health and functional outcomes in young adulthood. The primary public health significance of our study is that it will begin building a foundation of population-representative evidence that can inform the development and evaluation of services for the growing population of youth with autism spectrum disorders.

    Warm regards, Paul

    • Sullivan August 15, 2009 at 03:56 #

      Dr. Shattuck,

      thank you very much for taking the time to comment here. With the timing of the announcement it just struck me that this would be stimulus money. It’s better that it isn’t. That signals that this is a high priority for funding.

      As well it should be. This is an area that can clearly help. It amazes me that we don’t already know more about autistic adolescents and adults.

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