In many ways, Law sounds like a stereotypical millennial—unwilling to work a dull job to pay the bills and preferring to spend time on his creative interests. But Law’s path to an adult role and responsibilities is complicated by the fact that he has autism and bipolar disorder.
His mother, Kiely Law, is frustrated that he has, as she sees it, “plateaued” since graduating from high school at age 20. But as research director of the Interactive Autism Network, a registry for autism studies, she also knows that many young adults on the spectrum share her son’s difficulties transitioning to adult life.
Whereas the majority of young people with language impairments or learning disabilities live independently, less than one-quarter of young adults with autism ever do so.
So far, however, there’s been little research to determine what sort of support and services these young people need. Instead of getting extra help during these vulnerable years, they face a major impediment: a sudden drop-off in support at graduation, when federally mandated services abruptly end—a phenomenon that researchers call “the services cliff.”
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