Surveying the communication needs of adolescents and young adults with autism : implications for transition planning



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Research has shown that the majority of young adults with autism achieve poor-fair outcomes. It is known that communication deficits in individuals with autism may persist throughout the lifespan. However, there is a paucity of information in the literature pertaining to the communication needs of adolescents and young adults with autism. To meet the complex needs of these individuals, transition plans and programs must be improved. One way in which transition programs can be improved is by incorporating evidence based assessment and intervention methods designed for this population that target communication skills. Caregivers (n=68) of adolescents and young adults with autism anonymously completed a survey pertaining to outcomes, goals, and communication skills. Outcomes for the young adults were mostly poor and communication skill performance was variable. Results revealed that overall, caregivers perceived some communication skills to be more important than others. Caregivers rated the importance of communication skills differently depending on the social goals of the individual with autism. Results achieved significance for the relationship between developmental language level and the perceived importance of certain communication skills. Findings demonstrate that specific communication skills should be assessed and targeted during transitional planning for individuals with autism.