Youth Perceptions of Stress and Coping When Transitioning to Adulthood with Autism: A Photovoice Study

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Qualitative Social Work


Autism, adolescence, coping, stress, transition to adulthood


Transitioning into adulthood can be challenging and stressful process for youth living with autism spectrum disorder. Few studies have examined the perspectives of youth with autism spectrum disorder during the transition to adulthood. Using the participatory methodology of photovoice among 11 young adults with autism spectrum disorder aged 18–23, this study’s aim was to identify strategies and resources youth with autism spectrum disorder utilize to cope with stress when transitioning to adulthood. Qualitative phenomenological analysis of participant narratives and photographs revealed four main themes. These included: (1) utilizing music, books, and physical exercise; (2) seeking support; (3) spirituality; and (4) building self-esteem and confidence. These findings provide insight into youth experiences of stress and coping when transitioning to adulthood with autism. Identifying the coping experiences of youth with autism spectrum disorder is important for the design of future programs, services, and policies supporting transition-aged youth with autism spectrum disorder.