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Daily Living Skills & High School Exit in Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Author(s): Clarke, Elaine
  • Advisor(s): Lord, Catherine M
  • et al.
Abstract

Daily living skills are a predictor of positive outcomes in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), yet little is known about trajectories of daily living skills in adults with ASD. This study investigated the impact of high school exit on participants’ trajectories of daily living skills age equivalent (DLS-AE) scores from ages 2-26 and the relationship between DLS-AE trajectories and employment and education outcomes. 98 adults with ASD were drawn from an ongoing longitudinal study. The Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales were administered 8 times from ages 2-26. Employment and education data were compiled from parent-report demographic forms. DLS-AE trajectories modestly increased with age prior to exiting school, at which point DLS-AE trajectories plateaued, then declined. A significant (p < .01) decrease occurred in the slope of DLS-AE trajectories following school exit. High DLS-AE scores predicted participation in post-secondary education (X2 (5, n = 73) = 27.83, p < .001). Autism symptom severity predicted participation in employment (X2 (5, n = 58) = 27.54, p < .001). These findings provide evidence that DLS declines in adults with ASD, specifically after school exit, and highlight the importance of DLS in normative adult outcomes. Future work should examine the trajectories of DLS in middle and later adulthood and consider intervention targets for bolstering DLS following school exit.

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