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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), and North Carolina community colleges.
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 every other week for internship and goal planning with a T-STEP counselor.
  • 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.

There are four main intervention areas:

  • Goal Achievement Skills – These modules involve choosing and working towards the individual’s goals in several areas of their life.
  • Executive Function Skills – These modules target approaching tasks in an organized manner, time management and flexibility.
  • Emotion Regulation Skills – These modules target coping with stress and accepting corrective feedback.
  • Social Skills – These modules target speaking up for yourself and getting answers and information you need, and social skills for college and work.
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)(ages17-21), Cape Fear Community College (Wilmington), and AB Tech Community College (Asheville). 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.  Before enrollment, all participants need to become clients of NCDVRS who can refer them to the T-STEP 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.  T-STEP is administrated through Life Long Learning, or Continuing Education at the individual community colleges.  Some community colleges will show the T-STEP course on transcripts.  Individuals participating in the T-STEP program are encouraged to list the T-STEP course and their T-STEP internship on their resumes. Participants can also request a letter of recommendation from their internship supervisors, as appropriate. 
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. Participants who are already on the campus where the T-STEP is taught have an easier time taking a heavier load. 
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 on a college campus 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.