Transitions: An Independent Living Skills Group for Adolescents and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Shier, Adrian C.
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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological pervasive developmental disorder that is characterized primarily by impairments in socialization and communication and restricted interests or repetitive behaviors (Folstein, 1999). ASD includes autism, Asperger's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) (Levy, Mandell, & Schultz, 2009). This study evaluated the efficacy of the Transitions independent living skills group for adolescents and young adults with autism spectrum disorder. Many programs that have been implemented for individuals with ASD focus on social skills, but the Transitions group was unique in that it sought to develop not only the social, but also vocational and independent living skills of the participants. Ultimately, the Transitions program attempted to expand the participants' employment or educational opportunities and enable them to acquire more easily higher levels of employment or education. In this study, 4 participants ages 16 to 22 met for 2 hours once each week over an 8-week period. The participants discussed a different set of skills in each weekly session, and completed homework that was assigned to them afterward. The skills addressed in this program include making a decision between a career and school, building a resume, social skills, job skills communication training, budgeting and paying bills, transportation training, household chores, and meal preparation. At the beginning and end of the program, the participants rated their capabilities in and knowledge of each topic on a 5-point Likert scale from I (disagree strongly) to 5 (agree strongly) to determine if there were any significant improvements among the participants after completion of the program. Incongruent with the hypothesis, the participants did not report any marked improvements once the program was finished. Limitations as well as implications of the study are discussed.