SALT LAKE CITY — Not much is known about how children with autism fare as they become adults, including their employment opportunities, how they do socially and what kinds of support services they need.

But with the resources received from a new three-year, $450,000 grant from autism activists Autism Speaks, University of Utah researchers hope to be able to shed more light on the issue through a new project and study.

"Some smaller studies have yielded helpful findings about the course of autism into adulthood," said Dr. William M. McMahon, professor and chairman of the U.'s Department of Psychiatry. "But what's needed is a large population-based sample to better understand the issue. With the Autism Speaks grant, we can start to provide more information on current outcome."

To kick off the project, McMahon and other researchers will give a presentation Friday at the Carmen B. Pingree Center, 780 S. Guardsman Way, in Salt Lake City. The presentation, which will start at 6:30 p.m. and last about two hours, will give researchers the chance to talk about the new study, as well as updates on adult autism research at the U.

The study will focus on the adult outcome of 241 children with autism who took part in a 1980s study conducted by the U. and the University of California.

"Our findings may guide families, social policy, service delivery and scientific focus for the country," McMahon said.