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The Autism Cliff: Transition into Adulthood

The gap between services provided to a child with autism and services provided to an adult with autism is often called: The Cliff. It is a rude awakening specials needs parents face after their child's 21st birthday, when services and supports fall off. The transition into adulthood can be daunting for anyone, but especially so for those on the spectrum.  Job skills, dating, living arrangements are all things that can come with great difficulty for people with autism.


Job Skills

Fortunately, there are companies like AutonomyWorks that helps people with autism navigate the hiring process.  More companies are starting to see the benefit of neurodiversity and inclusion programs.  We still have a long way to go before these practices are normalized.  We can start by advocating for these programs at our own places of employment.  If you work for an organization that doesn’t have a Diversity and Inclusion program, offer to help start one!  You’ll receive kudos from your boss and help those on the spectrum (win-win)!  Check out this 60Minutes piece on hiring autism with Anderson Cooper.



I have a high-functioning pre-teen (Chris) and a low-functioning seven-year-old (Cam).  For the Chris, I feel like when he is ready to date he will be able to navigate the world of love and physical intimacy as well as anyone else. But for Cam, I worry.  Will he understand boundaries?  Will he let his physical urges over power what is appropriate? Will someone take advantage of him?  What if he gets someone pregnant but doesn’t have the mental capacity to be a father…what liability is he under…what liability am I under??

These are all questions I have as I future-worry about adulthood.  (Yes, I know I have a long time before that happens, but still these are questions to think about).


Living Arrangements

My dream property would be a modest home on 10 acres where I can build a second home for Cam to live, so he can have help when needed but independence when wanted.  I also want a full garden and stocked lake for fishing (a girl can dream…).  If life was prefect our kids would always be near and our health would always be prefect…but life sometimes isn’t prefect.  Assisted living, group homes, and other arrangements have to be planned way before the decision is taken out of our hands. If you didn’t see our September Virtual Event, check it out.  Eric Jorgensen does a great job breaking down all the decisions that should be thought of for an autism parent with a child transitioning into adulthood.

-Dr. Celeste Chamberlain

3.14 Academy Founder, Autism Specialist and Autism Mom ❤

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