Long-term outcomes studies often paint a discouraging picture of the lives lived by autistic adults. Yet, their outcomes are often measured against normative markers of traditional adult roles, which may not apply to autistic people making the transition to adulthood. Here, we investigated the transition experiences of a group of young autistic people who were followed from childhood. Twenty-six young people and their parents (n = 28) participated in semistructured interviews on the process of transition and their aspirations for the future. Parents often voiced serious concerns about the ongoing support their children would require and the severe lack of services designed to support them as adults. Yet, overall, young people reported feeling more in control of their own lives, including developing a sense of identity and personal autonomy, both of which may be rooted in young autistic people’s executive skills and their ability to develop and maintain trusting relationships with others – two potential candidate areas for targeted support. These results call into question whether the traditional standards to which we often hold young autistic people are developmentally appropriate and suggest that the pressures of striving towards more normative ways of engaging in the world may be detrimental to their well-being.
- emerging adulthood