Sponsored Project

Beyond the Cliff: Navigating Autistic Adulthood

Ben Sharif
Karen S Shapiro
silhouetted man stands on the top of a rocky hill.

Beyond the Cliff: Navigating Autistic Adulthood, a feature-length documentary, follows the stories of young adults on the autism spectrum and explores the challenges they face during their tumultuous transition into adulthood.

1 in 40 children born in the US are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), per a study by the periodical “Pediatrics,” published December 2018. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that obligates elementary and secondary schools to offer services for children with disabilities. Though transition services are also required, the law stipulates that, although “educational services must be provided to students with disabilities who are in school until the age of 21… states can choose to limit or extend eligibility for kids who are 18 or older.” Many parents of children on the spectrum equate the drop in aid to “falling off the services cliff.”

By telling a compelling narrative of authentic, relatable stories, Beyond the Cliff: Navigating Autistic Adulthood will document the experiences, both struggles and successes, of young adults with autism. We will highlight existing services and opportunities that aid these individuals in adapting to adulthood as well as show how the system could be dramatically improved. In addition, we plan to hire autistic crew members during production and post to empower these individuals and offer them employment.

Who and what determines success for these autistic people? How can we encourage individuals on the spectrum to thrive, and create opportunities and inclusive environments that enable them to hone their unique talents and insights? By exploring these questions, we can begin to discover ways to further inspire and support the incoming generations. The themes of Beyond the Cliff: Navigating Autistic Adulthood are universal, as every parent’s dream is to cultivate their child, instill in them proper values and lessons so that they live fulfilling lives.