New study examines social isolation of young adults with autism spectrum disorder

Young adults with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are more likely to never see friends, never get called by friends, never be invited to activities and be socially isolated. That’s the finding of new research released online in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders that studies the social outcomes of young adults with an ASD. The study is part of a pioneering program of research on adolescents and adults with autism led by Paul T. Shattuck, PhD, associate professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. Lead author is Gael I. Orsmond, PhD, associate professor at Boston University and an expert on the social development of adults with an ASD.

Youth with autism face barriers to employment and education after high school

Compared with youth with other disabilities, young adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) face a disproportionately difficult time navigating work and educational opportunities after high school, finds a new study by Paul Shattuck, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. “Thirty-five percent of the youth with ASDs had no engagement with employment or education in the first six years after high school,” Shattuck says. “Rates of involvement in all employment and education were lower for those with lower income.”

New study looks at medication use of kids with ASD, ADHD

Many children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can benefit from medication for related disorders such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). “Unfortunately, there is very poor understanding of overall medication use for kids with autism,” says Paul T. Shattuck, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. As a step toward improving the situation, Shattuck and colleagues studied psychotropic medication use compared across individuals with an ASD, ADHD and both an ASD with ADHD. “Observations from the present study reinforce the complexity of pharmacologic treatment of challenging behavior in kids with ASDs and ADHD. There needs to be a clearer guide for treating kids with both an ASD and ADHD,” he says.

Autism affects motor skills, study indicates

Children with autism often have problems developing motor skills, such as running, throwing a ball or even learning how to write. But scientists have not known whether those difficulties run in families or are linked to autism. New research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis by Claudia List Hilton, PhD, points to autism as the culprit.

Study looks at how kids with autism spend their screen time

Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) tend to be preoccupied with screen-based media. A new study by Paul Shattuck, PhD, assistant professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis, looks at how children with ASDs spend their screen time. “We found a very high rate of use of solitary screen-based media such as video games and television with a markedly lower rate of use of social interactive media, including email,” Shattuck says.

Youth with autism coming of age: Brown School study will focus on transitions in service use and coverage

For teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their families, the transition to young adulthood may be especially difficult. To better understand this issue and how best to address it, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded a five-year grant to Paul T. Shattuck, Ph.D., assistant professor at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. “This study will help us one day answer one of the most pressing issues in treating ASD,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. “Bridging the gap in health care, service use, and insurance coverage as these young people leave the school systems and enter adulthood may help prevent lapses in behavioral, social, and occupational skills that they and their families have worked so hard to achieve.”