(Note: This is an expanded section of the article, " Supporting Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders through Postsecondary Transition", contributed by Anna Merrill.
The main article can be found at: https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/pages/supporting-youth-with-autism-spectrum-disorders-through-postsecondary-transition)
Predictors of Positive Transition
Contributed by Anna Merrill, Graduate Assistant
1) Social Skills Intervention
Communication and social deficits are the biggest obstacle to successful employment of individuals with ASD (Hendricks, 2010). For example, difficulties with communication may include issues with understanding and reading facial expressions, inappropriate tone of voice, asking too many questions, difficulty understanding directions, and an inability to “read between the lines.” Similarly, difficulties in social impairment and independent-living skills can also get in the way of successful employment outcomes for individuals with ASD. This may include things like inappropriate hygiene, inability to follow social rules such as acting inappropriately with individuals of the opposite sex, difficulty understanding affect, and wanting to work alone. Difficulties with communication and social functioning can be an issue in the hiring process as well, for example, when interviewing with a potential employer.
Evidence-based practices for teaching social skills such as social narratives, peer mediated instruction and intervention, social skills groups, and video modeling are all supported by The National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders. However, individuals working to teach social skills need to read up on which intervention strategy may best meet the needs for the individual they are working with and is most feasible with resources available to them. For example, video self-modeling is more accessible than ever with the presence of iPads, and other hand held devices capable of recording video, in many schools and can be very successful in teaching simple social and adaptive skills such as joining in during conversation or table manners.
Bellini, S. (2006). Building Social Relationships. Shawnee Mission, KA: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.
Garcia Winner, M & Crooke, P. (2009). Socially Curious and Curiously Social: A Social Thinking Guidebook for Bright Teens & Young Adults. San Jose, CA: Think Social Publishing, Inc.
Baker, J. E. (2003). Social skills training for children and adolescents with Asperger syndrome and social-communication problems. Shawnee Mission, KA: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.
Teaching Self –Advocacy
When a student exits the school setting it is imperative that they have learned how to talk about their diagnosis. Stephen Shore (2004) defines self-advocacy as, “Knowing when and how to approach others to negotiate desired goals, and to build better mutual understanding and trust, fulfillment, and productivity.” This means that when entering the work force the student is ready and able to ask for what they need to be successful. This may include teaching:
• What it means to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder (Strengths and Weaknesses)
• When and How to Self-Disclose (and When Not to!)
• When and How to ask for Accommodations
• The ins and outs of the Americans with Disabilities Act
By incorporating these lessons into a transition plan the student is armed with the tools they need to advocate for themselves. It may be useful to include the student in the IEP process as well as a way of beginning to empower them to identify and understand their goals for the future.
Shore, S. (Ed.) (2004). Ask and Tell: Self-Advocacy and Disclosure for People on the Autism Spectrum. Shawnee Mission, KA: Autism Asperger Publishing Co.
The Integrated Self-Advocacy Curriculum: http://www.autismselfadvocacy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=75&Itemid=136
Autistic Self Advocacy Network: http://autisticadvocacy.org/
2) Career Awareness and Work Experiences
Exposure to different careers and life in the workplace helps to prepare all students for successful employment. Providing exposure to different careers and work experiences helps students with ASD to learn and practice employability skills in a hands-on setting. By taking part in experiences such as shadowing current employees, interning, or community-based employment students can explore their own personal career goals and learn valuable skills that can lead to integrated or supported employment in the future. Students should be encouraged to explore their career interests by researching career options online.
Website designed to help individuals with ASD explore career interests, obtain employment, and maintain employment, Do2Learn Job TIPS: http://www.do2learn.com/JobTIPS/index.html
Tool for Career Exploration, O’Net Online: http://www.onetonline.org/
Online portal to connect job seekers with disabilities to employers, Getting Hired: http://www.gettinghired.com/
3) School, Counselor, and Parental Collaboration
In 2004, the United States government updated the definition of transition services.
“The term ‘transition services’ means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:
• Is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment); continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
• Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and
• Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.”
[34 CFR 300.43 (a)] [20 U.S.C. 1401(34)]
Transition services are defined as a coordinated set of activities. In order to fulfill the objectives of successful transition, collaboration between multiple parties is essential. Communication between the student, the parents, the teachers, the vocational rehabilitation counselor, the service provider, and any other important people in the life of the student is the only way to ensure a seamless transition. It should also be understood that the process is continuous throughout middle and high school and preferably even before middle school. Federally, transition planning must begin when the student turns 16, but the age does vary by state. However, it is never too early to begin considering postsecondary goals and tailoring a student’s education to meet their individual needs.