Brief Report: What Happens After School? Exploring Post-school Outcomes for a Group of Autistic and Non-autistic Australian Youth


Young autistic Australians are less likely to attend higher education and have lower employment rates than non-autistic Australians (in: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Survey of disability, ageing and carers Australia: Summary of Findings 2018. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, 2019a). Few studies have examined post-school outcomes among this population. Using data from the first phase of a national longitudinal study including autistic (n = 79) and non-autistic (n = 107) 17–25-year olds, we found young autistic adults were (a) less likely to be employed, (b) more likely to attend technical and further education (TAFE) than university, (c) more likely to enrol in higher education on a part-time basis and (d) less likely to be engaged in both higher education and employment, than their non-autistic peers. Findings highlight a need to understand post-school trajectories of young autistic adults.

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  1. 1.

    Recent research has indicated that many individuals with autism spectrum disorder prefer identity first language to describe autism, such as ‘autistic’ (Kenny et al. 2016). Therefore, we will use ‘autistic’ in the current paper.

  2. 2.

    As the Project Leader for the longitudinal study, the second author was involved in the [name of longitudinal study- blinded for review] design. All authors have been involved in data collection. For more information on the [name of study- blinded for review], see here [insert website for study with all reports and publications – blinded for review].

  3. 3.

    While we recognise that male and female are not the only two genders one may identify with, the first phase of the current study included only binary options. This has been rectified in follow up phases of the longitudinal study.

  4. 4.

    Participants recruited via Rulo were supplied with participant information electronically and gave electronic consent.

  5. 5.

    The AQ-short is not a diagnostic tool, and hence individuals were not classified into groups/excluded from self-reported group membership as a result of their AQ score.


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The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program. RF and LL’s positions were supported by the Autism CRC at the time this manuscript was written.

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Correspondence to Rebecca L. Flower.

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Flower, R.L., Richdale, A.L. & Lawson, L.P. Brief Report: What Happens After School? Exploring Post-school Outcomes for a Group of Autistic and Non-autistic Australian Youth. J Autism Dev Disord (2020).

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  • Adolescence
  • Autism
  • Employment
  • Higher education
  • Post-school outcomes
  • Transitions