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Changes in the Autism Behavioral Phenotype During the Transition to Adulthood

Abstract

We examined whether exiting high school was associated with alterations in rates of change in autism symptoms and maladaptive behaviors. Participants were 242 youth with ASD who had recently exited the school system and were part of our larger longitudinal study; data were collected at five time points over nearly 10 years. Results indicated overall improvement of autism symptoms and internalized behaviors over the study period, but slowing rates of improvement after exit. Youth who did not have an intellectual disability evidenced the greatest slowing in improvement. Lower family income was associated with less improvement. Our findings suggest that adult day activities may not be as intellectually stimulating as educational activities in school, reflected by less phenotypic improvement after exit.

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Acknowledgments

This project was supported by the Marino Autism Research Institute (J. L. Taylor, PI), the National Institute on Aging (R01 AG08768, M. M. Seltzer, PI) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (P30 HD15052, E. M. Dykens, PI: P30 HD03352, M. M. Seltzer PI). We are grateful to Erin Barker for statistical consultation and Dan Bolt for his comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

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Taylor, J.L., Seltzer, M.M. Changes in the Autism Behavioral Phenotype During the Transition to Adulthood. J Autism Dev Disord 40, 1431–1446 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1005-z

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1005-z

Keywords

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Transition to adulthood
  • Maladaptive behaviors
  • Autism symptoms