Parents of adolescents play a key role in transition planning with and for their child with a disability. Parental involvement has also been recognized as a key component of transition planning as students with disabilities move through the secondary years (deFur, Todd-Allen, & Getzel, 2001; Grigal & Neubert, 2004; Morningstar, Turnbull, & Turnbull, 1996) The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA], 2004) requires transition planning for all students with disabilities beginning by age 14 (20 U.S.C. 1401(a)(19)). Transition planning includes a focus on activities as employment, recreation, postsecondary education, self-determination, and community living and participation after the student graduates (34 C.F.R. 601(d)(1)(A)). IDEA mandates transition services be part of each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). Parents, the adolescents, and the educators at the school give input and develop goals to be document that will help the adolescents develop the skills, supports, and relationships they will need to achieve their desired postsecondary goals.
Despite research that suggests autism symptoms and maladaptive behaviors generally improve as individuals move from childhood to adulthood (Shattuck et al., 2007), current transition planning is not helping adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)’s abilities lead to positive postsecondary outcomes. This literature review will examine the connection between parental expectations and postsecondary outcomes in an effort to help close this gap for adolescents with ASD. It will explore how parents’ expectation for the future impacts the postsecondary outcomes for their child and that parents’ expectations can be raised when they are exposed to various employment and education outcomes available. It will also describe strategies to better aid their child with ASD in reaching his/her postsecondary goals. A literature search was conducted through ERIC, Education Full Text, Academic Search Complete, CINAHL with Full Text, Family & Society Studies Worldwide, Web of Science, Google Scholar, and PsycINFO with the key words autism, parent expectation, adolescent, parent involvement, transition, and high school from 2000-2013. A detailed review of the reference list from relevant sources was also done.
Postsecondary Outcomes for Adolescents with Autism
Despite transition planning efforts, postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities, specifically those with ASD, have been poor. Shattuck et al. (2012) found that adolescents with ASD had a lower rate of employment when compared to those with a speech and language impairment (SLI), learning disability (LD) or intellectual disability (ID). Those with ASD also had lower rages of postsecondary education compared to those with SLI or LD. Among the four disability groups, adolescents and young adults had the highest risk of being completely...