TEACCH Autism Program at the University of North Carolina is the recipient of a $120,000 grant,Using Structured Teaching to Promote Employment Skills in Adolescents with ASD, from Autism Speaks. As the number of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) rises, there will be an increasingly large adult population for whom the challenges of gaining productive, long-term employment will likely overwhelm the current adult service programs. Only 18% of young adults with ASD are reported to be involved in competitive or supportive employment.
Principal investigator, Mark Klinger, Associate Professor Division of Rehabilitation Counseling and Psychology in the Department of Allied Health Sciences, and Co-Investigator, Laura Klinger, Director of TEACCH Autism Program and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, will assess the effectiveness of the TEACCH School Transition to Employment Program (TSTEP) for adolescents and young adults (ages 16 – 21) with ASD. The program consists of six employment skills training modules that address pivotal organizational and social-emotional skills essential to successful employment. Each module integrates social skills techniques, cognitive behavioral techniques, and TEACCH structured teaching techniques. The intervention will be conducted in local high schools and should lead to increased on-task work behavior, increased job-related social skills behavior, and improved coping with corrective feedback and changes in routine within a work environment, thereby improving adult vocational outcomes.