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Service Works: An Intervention Study for Youth with Autism

Limited post-secondary and employment outcomes of young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and a recent surge in incidence of ASD diagnosis indicate a need for more effective school-to-work transition interventions. Service-Learning opportunities can support young adults with ASD to gain skills, explore careers, and develop networks that can lead to meaningful employment.

Service Works!: An Intervention Study for Youth with Autism is a three-year initiative that explores the impact of a Service-Learning intervention on career development, self- determination, and social skill building for youth with ASD who represent underserved populations in three Florida counties. During the five-month structured Service-Learning intervention (called Project Impact) students with ASD will map their communities, collaboratively identify a community problem, and develop and implement a subsequent Service- Learning project.

ICI will partner with Florida Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteering (Volunteer Florida), and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at the University of South Florida. An Advisory Board with experts in Service-Learning, service inclusion, autism and transition will guide project activities.

The project will use a pretest-posttest control group design to investigate the impact of the intervention using field-tested, standardized scales pertaining to three variables: career development, self-determination, and social skills. Surveys will assess the students at baseline, and then again post-intervention across these three domains. Qualitative interviews will add depth to the study by providing personal experiences and perceptions of the impact of the intervention, while documenting its implementation.

Results will be disseminated to education and transition professionals who support youth with ASD, disability employment support systems (such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities agencies), National Service professionals, and individuals with ASD and their families. Findings will focus on the impact of the intervention as an employment development strategy and offer considerations for expanding Service-learning opportunities for youth with ASD.

For more info on supporting people with autism in employment http://www.communityinclusion.org/article.php?article_id=266

For more on Service-learning http://www.servicelearning.org/what-service-learning

related projects

Here is the Project Impact Activity Guide for Facilitators and Mentors

For more information on the Service Works project, contact:

Project Director: Sheila Fesko

Project Contact: Jaimie Ciulla Timmons
ICI: promoting inclusion for people with disabilities