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CONNECTING YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS TO COMMUNITY LIFE

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  • Partial support for preparation of this article was provided by a Projects of National Significance: Partnerships in Employment Systems Change grant from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We also acknowledge support from the National Institute of Mental Health (T32-MH18921; K01 MH92598).

Abstract

Equipping youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) to flourish during and after high school is central to the purpose and practice of special education. However, many students with ASD are leaving high school without the preparation and connections needed to engage meaningfully in their communities. This article reviews research-based approaches for connecting adolescents with ASD to life beyond the classroom by describing promising practices for fostering inclusion in postsecondary education and community activities. Recognizing that relationships are at the core of community life, emphasis is placed on fostering social connections as an essential aspect of helping young people with ASD thrive in these settings. We conclude with suggestions for school staff to support the successful transitions of young people with ASD.

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