Adults with ASD

As we know, ASD is not simply a childhood disorder. Infants grow into children, children grow into adolescents, and adolescents grow into adults. For the adult with ASD, finding one's way through college, engaging in meaningful work, and living independently in the community all may prove difficult.

We know that upon graduation from the public school system, many adults with ASD are left in limbo. Different services and supports are needed as they try to find a new routine in new environments, new homes, and new situations. The world of ASD and adulthood is changing though. Where before the only options focused on sheltered workshops and group homes, now we are seeing more and more employment and living opportunities for the adult with ASD. In fact, some of the work being done here at VCU-ACE and at the VCU-Research and Rehabilitation Training Center (VCU-RRTC) is helping to facilitate such meaningful employment opportunities.

In this section of the website, you will find information about transitioning from the school system, transitioning into college or work, facilitating independence, and finding appropriate support.


ACE-IT in College is a collaborative effort between the Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and the Partnership for People with Disabilities in the VCU School of Education. ACE-IT in College provides an inclusive, on campus, college experience for young adults with intellectual disabilities. The main outcome of the program is competitive employment in an area of interest for students, which is developed through VCU coursework, internships, and employment.

The VCU Research and Training Center (VCU-RRTC) is a national center of excellence providing support for professionals, individuals with disabilities, and their representatives. VCU-RRTC hosts several research projects focusing on supported employment and workplace supports and offers web-based training on a variety of relative topics.

Advancing Futures for Adults with Autism is a consortium of organizations with the goal of increasing both private and public support specifically for adults with ASD. AFAA's website has more information about their goals, resources and news, as well as links to an active Facebook page.

Autism After 16 is a website for individuals with ASD and the families and professionals who support them. It includes extensive information about transition, postsecondary life, employment, housing, finance, health, and more.

Autism Speaks highlights stories about employees with ASD and testimonials from their employers in their Autism in the Workplace section.

The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) is a nonprofit organization run by and for Autistic people. ASAN is advancing the disability rights movement for those with ASD. The organization organizes local chapters, resources, and several projects, including Autism Campus Inclusion and the Autistic Leaders Project.

The Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services provides support for the employment, independence, and housing needs of individuals with ASD.

The Arc of Virginia advocates for individuals with disabilities and helps promote disability related legislation and policy. The Arc has several local chapters and ongoing community projects.

Guides and Fact Sheets

The Virginia Department of Education has written a Resource Document (revised May 2012) on the Transfer of Rights for Students with Disabilities upon Reaching the Age of Majority in Virginia.

The OCALI Customized Employment Guide provides strategies, links, and resources for those beginning to seek customized employment.

Autism Speaks has developed an Employment Tool Kit to help you research, find, and keep employment in the current, competitive labor market. Stories, tips and resources were developed from a collaboration of people, including adults with autism, dedicated to increasing the employment participation of adults on the spectrum.

Videos and Training

ACE offers a variety of videos and trainings to meet the needs of both family members and professionals. Click here to learn more!

This PBS Newshour video (air date April 22, 2011) covers the topic of autism in adults.

The Programming Hope Documentary trailer discusses the problem approximately 90% of adults with autism face: unemployment or underemployment. Programming Hope documents a high tech programming company that employs individuals with ASD. The full documentary is scheduled to be released in 2013.

The Autistic Global Initiative (AGI) of the Autism Research Institute and a team of 15 curriculum experts from across the United States have developed an online course designed for those who support individuals with autism and related disabilities in daily living and residential settings. The AGI Residential/Daily Living Support Course provides parents, siblings, family members, in-home support workers, agency support providers, and volunteers from the community the foundational knowledge, competencies, and tools necessary to support the daily living needs of transition aged students, young adults, and adults with ASD.

Articles and Research

The Autism, Transition and Employment: An Annotated Bibliography contains a wide array of journal articles that are packed full of quality information on autism, transition, and employment. Review these articles for the most up-to-date information on this ever-changing topic.

Guertz, H.M. & Vissers, M.E. (2012). Elderly with autism: Executive functions and memory. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42, 665-675.

Hendricks, D. (2010). Employment and adults with autism spectrum disorders: Challenges and strategies for success. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(2), 125-134.

Levy, A., & Perry, A. (2011). Outcomes in adolescents and adults with autism: A review of the literature. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, retrieved online 07/30/2013.

Schall, C. & McDonough, J. (2010). Autism spectrum disorders in adolescence and early adulthood: Characteristics and issues. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(2), 81-88.

The VCU Research and Rehabilitation Center has developed a comprehensive list of articles on a multitude of topics relevant to adults with ASD. Please visit the RRTC website to search their database of articles by keyword or category.