Background

Autism presents with lifelong challenges in communication, social interaction and in restricted and repetitive interests. These challenges may have a negative impact on an individual with autism’s ability to perform functional life skills, form relationships and conduct daily living activities.

As children and young people with autism experience challenges in interacting and communicating with others. These challenges can have an impact on their development and learning experiences.

Following education adolescents with autism experience lower rates of: paid employment (Taylor and Seltzer, 2011), independent living (Farley et al., 2009), academic achievement (Shattuck et al., 2012) and friendships (Newman et al., 2011). There are no definitive lists of requisite life skills, as some will be added to the repertoire as new situations and circumstances arise. Supporting the child or young person with autism through identifying their strengths, developing coping skills/flexibility, positive attitudes and regulating their emotions can contribute to building resilience skills which in turns supports the development of building their capacity to be more independent, to seek help and assistance and to ultimately have a better quality of life.

“Everyone with autism, no matter what degree, can contribute to society…
I believe in the strengths of people with autism.  Make sure when you give support that they have success, not just in the classroom but out there in real life. Make sure they can be satisfied, so focus on positive feelings, not just the negative ones”  (Dr. Peter Vermeulen)

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References

Farley, M. A., McMahon, W. M., Fombonne, E., Jenson, W. R., Miller, J., Gardner, M., … and Coon, H.  (2009) Twenty‐year outcome for individuals with autism and average or near‐average cognitive   abilities. Autism Research, 2(2), pp.109-118.

Newman L, Wagner M, Knokey A, Marder C, Nagle K, Shaver D, Wei X, Cameto R, Contreras E, Ferguson K, Greene S, Schwarting M. (2011). The post-high school outcomes of young adults with disabilities up to 8 years after high school. A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) (NCSER 2011–3005) Menlo Park, CA: SRI International; 2011.

Taylor, J. L., and Seltzer, M. M. (2011) Employment and post-secondary educational activities for young adults with autism spectrum disorders during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 41(5), pp. 566-574.

Shattuck, P. T., Narendorf, S. C., Cooper, B., Sterzing, P. R., Wagner, M., and Taylor, J. L. (2012) Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Paediatrics. Available from: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/05/09/peds.2011-2864.full.pdf+html