Lack of financial skills is a big pothole on the road to independence for many young adults with autism, a new study indicates.
University of Missouri researchers interviewed 16- to 25-year-olds with autism. Most participants saw the link between adulthood and such responsibilities as paying bills and filing taxes, but many were anxious about it.
“Participants agreed that independence required managing finances and all expressed frustration in their own abilities when it came to knowing how to handle and use money,” said study leader Nancy Cheak-Zamora, an assistant professor in the School of Health Professions.
“According to the participants, the lack of financial skills has serious consequences on their ability to assume adult responsibilities,” she said in a university news release.
The study shows the need to help young adults with autism improve their money knowledge, the researchers said.
“Despite the importance of financial autonomy and the increased independence that comes from understanding money, financial management and decision-making often are seen as outside the purview of professionals working with young people with autism,” said study co-author Clark Peters. He’s an associate professor at the university’s School of Social Work.
Schools and independent living programs should emphasize financial literacy, Peters said.
Parents and caregivers can also help, according to the researchers. For example, they can bolster skills by having children with autism pay for items at stores and setting up bank accounts.
The researchers called on financial institutions to take steps to help customers with special needs, such as providing dedicated phone lines.
Autism affects more than 3 million people in the United States and diagnosis rates continue to rise.
The study was published recently in the Journal of Child and Family Studies.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on autism.