Improving Outcomes in Autism: Community Implementation of Stepped Transition in Education Program
This community-engaged, applied research study will test the effectiveness of STEPS (Stepped Transition in Education Program for Students with ASD), a program designed to help transition-age youth (TAY) with ASD prepare for independence. Adults with ASD have worse outcomes, with respect to employment, education, and quality of life, than neurotypical peers. Research-informed transition planning that addresses core impairments in skills needed for autonomous and independent living, including self-knowledge, self-determination, and self-regulation, may improve outcomes for this growing population. In a prior trial, we found STEPS to be feasible, acceptable, and efficacious. The proposed study is the first test of STEPS as implemented by community-based providers. Through a series of implementation working group meetings with our identified community partner agency and stakeholders (families, TAY with ASD) in the region, we will refine STEPS with the goal of optimizing program sustainability within community settings. We then launch a Hybrid Type 1 open trial, which focuses primarily on intervention effectiveness with a secondary focus on factors related to implementation. With a sample of TAY with ASD (n=25) we assess the immediate and longer-term clinical outcomes of adult functional outcomes and vocational engagement. This research will produce findings with the potential to shift clinical practice related to transition to adulthood for people with ASD.