Autism: Aging Out travels across Pennsylvania to show the successes and challenges individuals and families face when a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder turns 21 and navigates new pathways to joining the workforce; living situations; health and wellness; and social engagement.

We recognize that individuals and families are unique in how they choose to refer to a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, using either “person-first” language or “identity-first” language. To be as inclusive and respectful as possible, this documentary and web-extras use both kinds of references.

Autism: Aging Out was produced with sensitivity to sensory processing issues experienced by some people with autism. Limited lighting and other production equipment was used in the making of this program.

One in three people with Autism Spectrum Disorder report feeling socially isolated, according to a study by the National Center for Special Education Research. Pittsburgh area teen Ava Farrell shares her experiences as someone living with autism. Dr. Gary Swanson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist with Allegheny Health Network, explains how the disorder can create social, behavioral, and communications difficulties throughout life. Lu Randall, president of Autism Connection of Pennsylvania, discusses how neurotypical people can promote inclusion by better understanding ASD, and building better listening skills.

Web Extras

Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gary Swanson, MD, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with Allegheny Health Network explains criteria for diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Rising Rates of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Gary Swanson, MD, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with Allegheny Health Network, explains contributing factors to the steadily rising rates of diagnoses for Autism Spectrum Disorder over the past several decades.

Autism & Disease Burden

Gary Swanson, MD, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with Allegheny Health Network, explains autism and its disease burden, which is the impact of a health problem as measured by financial cost, mortality, morbidity, or other indicators that affect not just an individual but others in the family and community.

Autism & Co-Existing Mental Health Issues

Approximately 70% of children and adults with autism spectrum disorder also have a co-existing mental health issue. Gary Swanson, MD, a Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist with Allegheny Health Network, discusses mental issues he sees most commonly in patients; and, he provides insights into how to speak to a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder to understand the diagnosis and mental health concerns.

What is Transition Planning?

Transition planning is a “coordinated set of activities” that help students move from school into post-school activities (IDEA – Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – 20 U.S.C. §1401[34] Link

Issues to Consider for Transition Planning

Transition planning is a “coordinated set of activities” that help students move from school into post-school activities (20 U.S.C. §1401[34]). Consider the “checklist” for transitioning planning and hear who is at increased risk for determining services, explained by Nancy Murray of Achieva.

How Autism Spectrum Disorder Affects the Brain

Lu Randall, President of Autism Connection of PA, uses a simple prop to demonstrate how autism affects the brain; and, she explores the role of advocacy for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder who cannot always advocate for themselves due to communication and social impairments.

Autism and Health & Social Inequities

Lu Randall, President of Autism Connection of PA, discusses misconceptions about autism perpetuated by popular media; and, she explains the more common realities faced by individuals and families with a loved one with Autism Spectrum Disorder, especially people of color and those living in underserved communities.

Autism & the Minority Community

Jamie Upshaw is the Founder & Executive Director of Autism Urban Connections Inc. She’s also the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Learn about barriers and challenges families in the African American community face as they search for services in a system troubled by bias and inequities.

Autism & the Importance of Cultural Competency

Jamie Upshaw is the Founder & Executive Director of Autism Urban Connections Inc. She’s also the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Explore unique cultural considerations for families of color as they support their loved ones with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

A Parent’s Thoughts about Autism & Joining the Workforce

A parent of an adult daughter with ASD shares the family’s experiences as they prepared the child to join the workforce.

One Family’s Experience with Transition Plans & Aging Out

Transition planning is a “coordinated set of activities” that help students move from school into post-school activities (20 U.S.C. §1401[34]). A parent of an adult daughter with ASD shares her experiences in starting the transition process early, and advocating for her child’s plans for her future when she “aged out” of school-based services.

Resources

These links are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only. They do not present a comprehensive list of all entities and organizations available. Inclusion here does not constitute an endorsement or approval by WQED Multimedia of any of the organizations, entities, websites, journals, services, or opinions of the corporations, organizations, or individuals. WQED Multimedia bears no responsibility for the accuracy, legality, or content of the external sites, or for that of subsequent links on those sites. Please contact the external site for answers to questions regarding its content.

WQED is currently unable to add additional resources to this list. However, the list does include sites with comprehensive links and search mechanisms for viewers/users to find additional resources and support in their area.

PA Dept of Human Services – Office of Developmental Programs

PA Dept of Human Services – Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations (BSASP)

PA Dept of Human Services – Autism Services

ASAT – Association for Science in Autism Treatment –Information guide for parents of children recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Additional Video Resources

Autism: Behind the Lens

A filmmaking collaboration between professionals and young people on the spectrum.

Aspen Ideas Festival: How to Dance in Ohio

For teenagers and young adults on the autism spectrum, the first steps toward intimacy can be paralyzing.

Film School Shorts: Keep the Change

David has autism and comes to reevaluate “normal” when he meets a new love interest.