Uncertainty is a major theme of The Politics of Autism. In the concluding section, I write:
A key question in autism policy evaluation is simple to pose, hard to answer: How do autistic people benefit? How much better off are they as a result of government action? While there are studies of the short-term impact of various therapies, there is surprisingly little research about the long term, which is really what autistic people and their families care about. As we saw in chapter 4, few studies have focused on the educational attainment of autistic youths. For instance, we do not know much about what happens to them in high school, apart from the kinds of classes that they take. One study searched the autism literature from 1950 through 2011 and found just 13 rigorous peer reviewed studies evaluating psychosocial interventions for autistic adults. The effects of were largely positive, though the main finding of the review is that there is a need for further development and evaluation of treatments for adults.
Researchers are trying to fill this gap.
Megan Farley,Kristina J. Cottle,Deborah Bilder,Joseph Viskochil,Hilary Coon,and William McMahon have an article at Autism Research titled "Mid-life Social Outcomes for a Population-based Sample of Adults with ASD." The lay summary:
This paper describes the social functioning outcomes for 169 adults with autism spectrum disorders in mid-life. Adult participants spanned the full range of functional and cognitive ability levels, with over 75% functioning in the cognitively impaired range. While summary descriptions of outcomes for this sample were similar to those reported for other groups of adults, this report provides detailed information regarding employment outcomes, social relationships, leisure activities, participation in the community, residential situations, public service use, and involvement with law enforcement.Among other things, the article finds that only 12% of the sample had a full-time unsupported daily occupation (including postsecondary education) and another 12% had a part-time unsupported occupation.