Developing a Curriculum to Help Adolescents with ASD Enhance Skills Needed to Succeed in STEM Fields
Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face barriers forging friendships, entering higher education, and obtaining and maintaining careers aligned to their skills and interests. Despite a deeply problematic gap between the potential of adolescents with ASD and the employment outcomes they obtain, evidence-based services to bridge this gap using social and/or job skills interventions remain very limited (Taylor & Seltzer, 2011). Highlighting the strengths of individuals with ASD in technological domains (Baron-Cohen, 2009; Wei et al. 2013), this proposal presents a plan to observe, adapt, and evaluate instructional technology workshops for adolescents with ASD. We propose to refine an existing curriculum to help youth with ASD gain the skills they need to obtain meaningful careers and develop more positive identities. Unlike most computer-based interventions for people with ASD, the focus of this maker-based curriculum is on helping youth with ASD develop computer skills to empower themselves and to use technology as tools to transform their worlds and futures. This project will observe, iteratively adapt, and evaluate an evidence-based curriculum which uses supportive group activities to help youth with ASD transition successfully into employment by improving technological and interpersonal skills while increasing self-acceptance and connectedness to peers.