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Multicomponent Behavioral Intervention Designed to Increase Functional Independence During Aging in ASD


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Developing and maintaining functional independence in adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) across their lifespan is essential to improving quality of life (QoL) and reducing the estimated lifetime costs for these individuals. Our overall objective is to improve independence and QoL in adults with ASD across the lifespan using a single, personalized, multi-faceted, behavioral intervention Strengthening Skills that combines the PEERS social skill training program with cognitive compensation training, mindfulness-based emotional regulation, and support group components for those with ASD and their support companions. Our central hypothesis is that independence and QoL can be elevated and Strengthening Skills participants will gain skills in social communication, have improved cognition and enhanced mood. During Year 1, we developed the Strengthening Skills Curriculum combining existing literature with focused interviews with adults with ASD and their support companions. We developed the website that will accompany the instruction, compiled the weekly plan for the Strengthening Skills program, and assembled the program team. With a target start date of August 2021, we are currently recruiting for the first of two cohorts for a pilot prospective, randomized, controlled trial for adults aged 2170 years diagnosed with ASD who are not intellectually disadvantaged (IQ >70) and their program partner. Two cohorts will be enrolled with a total of 16 ASD program partner dyads for each of 3 conditions, totaling 48 dyads. To address the need for long-term maintenance of the treatment gains, we are incorporating a website with guided user lessons so that participants are habituated to use the website after training is completed.



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