Preparing High School Students with ASD for College and Careers

David Test, Erik Carter, & Kate Szidon

Post-school outcomes for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are of concern. The majority of research on effective interventions for students with ASD has been conducted in preschool and elementary settings; however, quality secondary education and transition planning for youth across the spectrum is critical. The Center on Secondary Education for Students with ASD (CSESA) will describe specific interventions developed during the first two years of an IES-funded research study, designed to develop a comprehensive intervention model for high school students with ASD.

The model was developed by (a) taking proven interventions with high school students with other needs and adapting to meet the needs of students with autism, and (b) developing new practices to support teachers, families, and students well. The intervention was developed through an iterative design approach and efficacy and compatibility of components are being examined through a contrasting features study design during the first two years of the project (2012-2014). Full implementation of the research study will occur from 2014 - 2017.

While presenters will overview the total model and the evidence-base for interventions within the program, the audience will gain specific knowledge of three components including (a) social skills, (b) transition services, and (c) a family education and support process called Transitioning Together. Each component will be described in detail along with evaluation data collected during the past two years.

Each of the intervention components is evidence- or research-based. The social skills component includes peer support strategies - one or more peers provide ongoing social support to their classmates with ASD after receiving initial training and ongoing guidance from an adult, as well as peer network strategies - a small group of peers who become a social "network" for the student. The transition component of the intervention includes guidance and instruction for (a) community and school mapping, (b) quality transition planning for IEP development, (c) student-involvement in the IEP, and (d) work-based learning experiences for college and career preparation. Finally, Transitioning Together includes an 8 session family education and support component combined with a youth group, which is central to the entire CSESA curriculum.


Test, D. W., Carter, E., & Szidon, K. (November, 2014). Preparing high school students with ASD for college and careers. An oral presentation at the Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) 2014 conference, Cleveland, OH.