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Support Need of Students on Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Model for Post-Secondary Education. Linda Holloway, PhD, CRC Martha Garber, M.Ed, LPC Eighth International Conference on Higher Education and Disability July 26, 2013. Objectives:

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support need of students on autism spectrum disorder a model for post secondary education
Support Need of Students on Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Model for Post-Secondary Education

Linda Holloway, PhD, CRC

Martha Garber, M.Ed, LPC

Eighth International Conference on

Higher Education and Disability

July 26, 2013


Review support needs of individuals with ASD in education and employment.

Examine evidence based practice for supported employment

Discuss research on supported education

Present SYNC model

The Problem
  • 50- 75% of adults with ASD are unemployed (Hendricks, 2010)
  • Higher unemployment and lower education participation after HS (Shattuck et. al, 2012)
      • 2 years after graduation, less than 50% were in postsecondary education or had a job
  • Less likely to be employed and to work fewer hours than youth with other disabilities (National Longitudinal Transition Study, 2005)
  • Youth with ASD and no intellectual disability are 3 x more likely to have no day time activity than those with intellectual disabilities (Taylor & Seltzer, 2011)
Support needs of high-functioning individuals with Asperger's/ASD (Hendricks, 2010;Zager & Alpern, 2010)
  • Social skills support
  • Relationship support
  • Communication support - nuances of language/slang
  • Assistance with understanding rules
  • Reducing sensory overload
  • Organizational/time management support
  • Stress management
What is Supported Education?

Supports provided to individuals with disabilities to enable them to be successful in post secondary education

  • Typical disability accommodations
  • Personal supports (outside the typical disability support services)
  • Integrated, natural classroom settings
  • Peer support
  • Long term goal integrated competetive employment
Research on Supported Education for individuals with ASD

Nearly 50% of youth with ASD without ID pursue postsecondary education (Taylor & Seltzer, 2011)

Social and vocational communication supports are necessary components of postsecondary programs (Zager & Alpern, 2007)

Postsecondary education is strongest predictor of better earning for youth with ASD (Migliore, et. al, 2012)

Customized programs for promoting social communication competence depend on a thorough assessment of every student (Mazzotti, el al., 2009)

What is Supported Employment?

Paid competitive work that offers ongoing

support services in integrated settings for

individuals with most significant disabilities

  • Competitive
  • Ongoing supports
  • Integrated settings
  • Most significant disabilities
research on supported employment for individuals with asd
Research on supported employment for individuals with ASD

SE have statistically significant higher closure (employment outcomes) rates than those receiving job placement (75.3% vs.58.4); yet only 44.8% from a national sample received SE(Schaller & Yang, 2008)

Supported employment is evidence-based (SAMHA)

Typical DSS services
  • Extended time for exam
  • Flexibility in how and when assignments are completed
  • Tape recorders
  • Books on tape
  • Other limited generic services
Typical personal services needed
  • Managing stress
  • Problem solving
  • Tutoring/basic academic skill
  • Resource utilization assistance
  • Social skills coaching
  • Independent living skills
  • Disclosure/self-advocacy
  • Communication supports
unt model
UNT Model

Student Youth Network for College Success (SYNCS)

unt syncs model

“While classes and homework are important, no one tries to tell non-disabled student that this the totality of their college experience. Clubs, social activities, dormitory life, parties, sex and relationships and countless other things should take up al least as much of your waking hours as schoolwork does…college is a way of life…We’d be doing you a disservice if we didn't talk about the part of the college experience that happen outside the classroom.”

  • Ari Ne’eman, Autistic Self Advocacy Network President
unt syncs model1

Person-centered planning

Summer Orientation

Core discovery courses including College Success and Employment Success

Mentoring: Peer, Faculty and Employer

Faculty training opportunities/resources

Opportunities for integrated living and community engagement


Dew, D. W., & Alan, G. M. (Eds.). (2007). Rehabilitation of individuals

with autism spectrum disorders. Institute on Rehabilitation Issues (No. 32). Washington, DC: GWU, Center for Rehabilitation Counseling Research and Education.

Gentry, T, & McDonough, J. (2011). Facilitating employment for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Research to Practice Brief No. 2. VCU Research & Training Center.

Hendricks, D. (2009). Employment and adults with autism spectrum disorders; challenges and strategies for success. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32, 125 – 134.

McDonough, J, & Revell. (2009). Accessing employment support in the adult system for transitioning youth with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32, 89 -100.

Migliore, A., Timmons, J., Butterworth, J., & Lugas, J. (2012). Predictors of employment and postsecondary education of youth with autism. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 55(3), 176 – 184.



Rutkowski, S. (2006). Project SEARCH: a demand-side model of high school transition ,Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation 25, 86-96.

Schaller, J. & Yang, N. (2005). Competitive employment for people with autism; correlates of successful closure in competitive and support3ed employment. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 49(1), 4-16.

Shattuck, P., Narendorf, B., Sterzing, Pl, Wagner, M., & Taylor, J. (2012). Postsecondary education and employment among youth with an autism spectrum disorder. Pediatrics, 129, 1042 -1049.

Taylor, J. & Seltzer. (2011). Employment and post-secondary education for youth adults with autism spectrum disorder during transition to adulthood. Journal of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 41(5), 566 – 574.

Zanger, D. & Carol, A. (2010). College-based inclusion programming for transition-age students with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 25(3), 151 -157.



United States Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy

Adult Autism and Employment: A Guide for Vocational Rehabilitation Autism & Employment.pdf

Getting Hired: Careers and Community for Talented People with

Think Beyond the Label: Workers & Employees with Disabilities in the

JAN: Job Accommodation

Think College

contact information
Contact Information

Linda Holloway, PhD, CRC

Martha Garber, M.Ed, LPC

Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work and Addictions

University of North Texas

1155 Union Circle #311456

Denton, Texas, 76203-5017

[email protected]

[email protected]