Transition Into Adulthood With Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Longitudinal Population Cohort Study of Socioeconomic Outcomes

Michael Beenstock, Ofir Pinto, Arie Rimmerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This longitudinal population cohort study tracks the transition of 1,405 adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) into adulthood, and highlights functional and social skills as core predictors of social outcomes (tertiary education, civic volunteering, and employment). Applying regression methods with sample selectivity to administrative data records obtained from Israel’s National Insurance Institute, we show that these outcomes are not highly correlated, suggesting that the high/low functioning dichotomy frequently used to categorize individuals with ASD is not supported by these data. We show that there is no causal relation between civic volunteering at an earlier stage and subsequent participation in tertiary education. This suggests that the traditional sequential model of developmental disability does not apply to ASD, and that the social-functional model of disability seems more applicable. We also show that functional and social severity vary inversely with year of diagnosis, due probably to the application of more liberal diagnostic standards. Disability among successive birth cohorts has been decreasing and is expected to decrease further in the future. Parents’ income has only a modest beneficial association with the transition into adulthood, and socioeconomic environments have no effect at all. Findings are discussed with respect to policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-170
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Disability Policy Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2020.


  • autism
  • sequential development
  • social-functional model
  • transition into adulthood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Law


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