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The T-STEP is a community college class supporting the transition to adulthood for 16–21-year-old students with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The T-STEP is a collaboration with the University of North Carolina TEACCH Autism Program, the North Carolina Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (NCDVRS), North Carolina community colleges, and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program.

During the academic year, the T-STEP is a 12-week program taking approximately 6-7 hours per week and includes: 

  • Twice weekly class (1 ½ hour for each class period) including group discussions, role-plays, and workbook activities. 
  • One-hour meeting for counseling (Self-Advocacy, Higher Education or Career Exploration), with a T-STEP counselor.  
  • Approximately two hours a week working in their T-STEP internship.

During the summer, the T-STEP is a 6-week program meeting 4 days/week for a total of 12-14 hours per week.

The T-STEP covers four areas important for transition readiness:

  • Goal Achievement Skills – Choosing and working towards an individual’s goals.
  • Executive Function Skills – Approaching tasks in an organized manner, time management, and flexibility.
  • Emotion Regulation Skills – Coping with stress and accepting corrective feedback.
  • Social Skills – Getting help when needed need and professional social skills.

Classes are co-facilitated by TEACCH autism specialists and community college instructors.

Currently, this program is being offered at Wake Tech Community College (Raleigh), Central Piedmont Community College (Charlotte), Pitt Community College (Greenville), Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington), and AB Tech Community College (Asheville), and Guilford Tech Community College (Greensboro). The T-STEP program will not be offered every semester at each college. Across the next year, the T-STEP will be offered at each of these sites at least once. We cannot guarantee a specific semester for program participants.  Please refer any potentially eligible individuals to the T-STEP Program as soon as possible so that we can confirm which colleges will be able to provide the program during the next year. 

The T-STEP is funded by the NCDVRS through a Pre-Employment Transition Services grant and research funding through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. 

No, there is no textbook. Each student will receive materials for the class, free of charge, including the T-STEP workbook and semester planner. These materials are distributed during class. 

No, the T-STEP is not a for-credit course. 

During the academic year, most individuals participating in the T-STEP program do not take more than three other classes in addition to the T-STEP Program. 

A brief “Skill Work for Home” is typically assigned one time each week. These exercises are designed to provide an opportunity for participants to share the information from their class with their parents and family, and to begin to use the tools and strategies outside of class.  

No, autism is not usually discussed during class, but there is discussion and an activity about ASD during the Self-Advocacy counseling.  The focus of Self-Advocacy counseling is understanding yourself, your strengths and challenges and ASD is a part of this understanding. Thus, participants need to know they have a diagnosis of ASD.

The T-STEP is a seminar class with the expectation that all students will participate in class discussions and activities. If students are unsure about participation, this is a good topic for discussion at the initial intake meeting. 

For more information about the T-STEP Program, please contact us at TSTEPinfo@med.unc.edu