Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Hagner, D., Kurtz, A., Cloutier, H., Arakelian, C., Brucker, D. L., May, J. (2012). Outcomes of a family-centered transition process for students with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 27 (1), 42-50.
Title:  Outcomes of a family-centered transition process for students with autism spectrum disorders
Authors:  Hagner, D., Kurtz, A., Cloutier, H., Arakelian, C., Brucker, D. L., May, J.
Year:  2012
Journal/Publication:  Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities
Publisher:  Hammill Institute on Disabilities
DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/1088357611430841
Full text:  http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1088357611430841    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Background:  Despite the 2004 amendments to the IDEA specifically defining and outlining the provision of transition services for youth with disabilities, educational, employment, and independent-living transition outcomes remain poorer for young adults with disabilities than for their nondisabled peers. Researchers have consistently demonstrated that adult employment, independent living, and social outcomes for individuals with ASD are poor. Furthermore, few young adults with ASD transition from school into employment or higher education, and many attend sheltered workshops or day activity programs.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of a transition planning approach that empowers students with ASD and their families, educates them about the transition process, and helps them connect with community resources on the transition readiness of youth with ASD. Our research questions included the following: Research Question 1: How does participation in a comprehensive family-centered intervention affect students with ASD and their families’ expectations for adult life? Research Question 2: How does participation in a comprehensive family-centered intervention affect levels of self-determination among transition-aged students with ASD? Research Question 3: How does participation in a comprehensive family-centered intervention affect career decision-making ability for transition-aged students with ASD?
Setting:  N/A
Study sample:  47 youth ages 16-19 years old with autism spectrum disorders
Intervention:  Youth, ages 16 to 19 years, were randomly assigned to a Year 1 group or a Year 2 group. Participants in the Year 1 group received a transition planning intervention consisting of (a) group training sessions for families in the transition process, (b) person-centered planning meetings facilitated by project staff, and (c) follow-up assistance with career exploration and plan implementation.
Control or comparison condition:  The Year 2 group began receiving services following the second data collection point.
Data collection and analysis:  Survey data were collected at enrollment and 12 months later, prior to the initiation of services for the Year 2 group. Standardized surveys were used to measure the impact of the project on (a) student and parent expectations for the future, (b) self-determination, and (c) vocational decision- making ability. To measure changes between pre- and post-survey measurements, paired t tests were run separately for Group 1 and Group 2. One-tailed repeated-measures tests with a significance level of .05 were used. Analyses were performed using SPSS Version 19.0.
Findings:  Participants in the Year 1 group reported statistically significant increases in all four measured variables, whereas the Year 2 group showed no significant changes.
Conclusions:  The fact that increases in measured variables in the Year 2 group were not significant indicates that a combination of maturation over time and exposure to the models of transition assistance currently being provided to students with ASD is not sufficient to accomplish these goals. Through the family-centered transition planning process, students and families were able to identify postschool goals and steps needed to achieve these goals. With assistance from a personally chosen planning team, students and families were also able to identify resources required to be successful and access those resources.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Populations served:  Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Interventions:  Career counseling
Other