Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 41, Issue 10, pp 1397-1410

First online:

Changes in the Mother–Child Relationship During the Transition to Adulthood for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Julie Lounds TaylorAffiliated withVanderbilt Kennedy CenterDepartment of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Email author 
  • , Marsha Mailick SeltzerAffiliated withWaisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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We examined whether exiting high school was associated with changes in the mother–child relationship. Participants were 170 mothers of youth with ASD who were part of our larger longitudinal study and who exited high school during the study; data were collected four times over 7 years. Results indicated improvement in the mother–child relationship while in high school; however, improvement in all indices slowed or stopped after exit. Mothers of youth with ASD without an intellectual disability (ID) and who had more unmet service needs evidenced the least improvement after exit. Our findings provide further evidence that the years after high school exit are a time of increased risk, especially for those with ASD without ID and whose families are under-resourced.


Autism spectrum disorder Transition to adulthood Mother–child relationship Burden Warmth