Transportation Issues of Adults on the Autism Spectrum
Publication Year: 2016

Transportation Issues of Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Findings from Focus Group Discussions


Lubin, Andrea, and Cecilia Feeley. 2016. “Transportation Issues of Adults on the Autism Spectrum: Findings from Focus Group Discussions.” Transportation Research Record. 2542: 1-8.


Approximately 1.5 to 3.5 million Americans have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a developmental disability characterized by social communication impairments, repetitive behaviors, and restricted interests. In the coming decade, a half-million persons with ASD in the United States will enter adulthood. Information on the transportation needs and challenges facing this population is limited, which hinders the development of sound policies and strategies to meet those needs successfully. This paper presents the findings from a series of focus groups conducted in New Jersey with adults with ASD and their parents or guardians. The focus groups were part of a larger study that included stakeholder interviews and a survey of this population on transportation-related issues and concerns. The findings provide evidence of the vital role of transportation in the lives of persons with ASD, especially as they seek to navigate the often difficult transition to adulthood. Transportation issues of special concern among all participants included an absence of transport options, lack of familiarity with public transportation modes, and cost factors. Parents were concerned about the safety of their adult children with ASD when they used public transportation. They also described the financial and emotional implications of being the primary transportation providers for their adult children. Adult participants with ASD discussed the difficulties of relying on their families for transportation and many conveyed a desire to use public transportation or to secure a driver’s license, or both, as a means to achieve greater independence and employment success.

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