As more children with autism enter adulthood, new research finds that residing with family may predict more than anything how much access they have to services.

The findings come from a study published recently in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Researchers looked at 274 adults with autism all of whom had been diagnosed as children by clinicians at the University of North Carolina TEACCH Autism Program sometime between 1969 and 2000.

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Caregivers for each of the individuals were surveyed to find out how adults on the spectrum used services, what types of unmet needs they had and what obstacles they faced in accessing help within the previous two years.

Just over half of those with autism in the study lived with family members while 10 percent lived independently and the remainder resided in a group home or other type of facility.

Caregivers across the board pointed most frequently to a need for daytime activities and employment supports for adults with autism, the study found. Race and age played some role with white caregivers less likely than others to say they didn’t know where to find services and those responsible for older adults reporting a greater need for services.

However, after accounting for various demographic factors, the study found that those who lived with relatives were receiving fewer services, reported a greater need for assistance and had more trouble obtaining it.

“Overall, these results indicate that adults with ASD not only need more services, but that those living outside of supported living facilities experience significant difficulties with access to care. In addition, it seems that those living at the family home are at a disadvantage for knowing where to find services and report that services are unavailable for their adult with ASD,” concluded researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center and the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The researchers noted that this trend could have major implications given that that an increasing number of adults with autism are living with aging caregivers.