Autism Awareness and Acceptance Month – Including Autistic Adults in Community

Throughout April, several organizations and agencies recognize Autism Awareness or Autism Acceptance Month. Many events and programs may focus on children on the autism spectrum and their families. Recently, however, there has been more attention on the lives of autistic adults* and young adults and their access to competitive employment, financial stability, and full participation in the community, including personal and family relationships.

We explored some of the recent research from the NIDILRR community supporting the full inclusion of autistic adults and young adults at school, at work, and in the community. Among the most recent projects we found:

At School

Efficacy of a Community College Transition Program for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) assesses the feasibility, social validity, and efficacy of the TEACCH School Transition to Employment and Post-Secondary Education (T-STEP) intervention for 16- to 21-year-old community college students with ASD. T-STEP focuses on executive function, emotion regulation, and social communication skills.

A Professional Development and Case Management (PDCM) Model for Seamless Transition Planning: Improving Postschool Outcomes evaluates a program to improve competitive integrated employment outcomes and seamless transition planning for youth with cognitive, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, including youth with traumatic brain injury, autism, and multiple disabilities.

At Work

Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC) on Employment of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities conducts a series of studies to examine the critical variables that can improve competitive integrated employment outcomes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including ASD. These include a project understanding how college students with ASD can use cognitive technology to impact their academic and employment outcomes.

SAFE Program: Development and Refinement of a Peer Support Intervention for the Prevention of Infectious Airbourne Diseases in the Workplace for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders tests an accessible peer support program to ensure safety and prevention of infectious airborne diseases for adolescents and young adults with ASD receiving employment services.

In the Community

SkillTalk: Using Streaming Video for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Build Microskills to Develop and Sustain Relationships for Healthy and Independent Living is developing a video-delivered microskills training program. Microskills such as showing empathy, active listening, and open-ended questioning can help build relationships.

The National Research Center for Parents with Disabilities conducts research and provide training and technical assistance to improve the lives of parents with disabilities and their families, particularly racial and ethnic minority parents. This includes analyzing state laws regarding parental rights and developing peer support programs for parents with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

These are a few examples of current research from the NIDILRR community. You can explore more current and completed projects in the Program Database.

Explore the Literature

NARIC’s REHABDATA database includes more than 250,000 abstracts of disability and rehabilitation literature, from clinical research to consumer publications. Use the advanced search page to explore the collection, or try one of these links to start your search:

*In general, we use “person first” language when we refer to people with disabilities (i.e., person with autism). However, many advocates and self-advocates within the autism community identify themselves as autistic first (i.e., autistic adult). In this article, we include both descriptions.

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