Adults with autism spectrum disorder — particularly those with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome — can live healthy productive lives with the proper structure and guidance. While social difficulties make communication with others challenging, people with autism can achieve a life of independence.

There are a number of people with autism spectrum disorder who are able to function in highly-structured, traditional jobs, working alongside managers who are trained in working with and communicating effectively with people with disabilities. Even in cases like this, social engagement can be difficult for the autistic person. Encouragement and moral support are very important to being able to live a productive and independent life.

Legally, public schools are responsible for providing services to ASD people up until the age of 22. At that time, it becomes the responsibility of the family to secure living arrangements as well as help facilitate employment opportunities, based on the particular needs of their adult child. It is recommended that parents and guardians research facilities as well as programs that can offer support in achieving this goal, even before the child has completed their schooling, in order to get a head start on the process. Other parents of grown children with autism are another valuable resource. They can inform you about services available in your community, as well as their own experiences to help guide your decision-making.

According to Autism Society, 5 percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school. As of 2014, less than 20 percent of people with disabilities in the U.S. were participating in the labor force — working or seeking work. Of those, almost 13 percent were unemployed, meaning only 7 percent of the population with disabilities was employed.

Adult with Autism – Living Arrangements

Independent living. Some adults with ASD are able to live independently in their own home or apartment. There are others who are able to live semi-independently; assistance may be needed in certain areas, such as communication with government agencies, for example, who provide services, or for paying bills and other financial concerns. This type of assistance may come from a professional agency, family, or another type of provider.

Living at home. Government funds are available for families who opt to have their adult child with ASD live at home. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid waivers, etc., are some of the options. The Social Security Administration (SSA) can offer more information about these programs. A good first step is to make an appointment with a local SSA office to learn more about the programs for which the young adult is eligible.

Foster homes and skill-development homes. Some families open their homes to provide long-term care to unrelated adults with disabilities. If the home teaches self-care, housekeeping skills, and arranges leisure activities, it is called a “skill-development” home.

Supervised group living. Group homes or apartments staffed by professionals allow individuals with autism to function properly with highly structured schedules. Autistic individuals are helped performing basic tasks such as personal care, meal preparation, and housekeeping. Higher functioning persons may be able to live in a home or apartment where staff only visit a few times a week. These persons generally prepare their own meals, go to work, and conduct other daily activities on their own.

Long-term care facilities. Recommended for those with ASD who need intensive, constant supervision.

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