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Surviving and Thriving in the Real World: A Daily Living Skills Intervention for High Schoolers with Autism Spectrum Disorder


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Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), even those defined as high functioning (IQ >70), have bleak adult outcomes because of difficulties successfully navigating the transition to the adult world due to the symptoms and characteristics associated with their diagnosis. Daily living skills (DLS) are everyday activities such as hygiene, cooking, cleaning, navigating the community, and managing money that are critical to independent functioning in adulthood. DLS were the only significant factor found to predict a positive outcome in adulthood for individuals with high functioning ASD9, and are linked to amore successful outcome in college, employment, independent living, social participation, and quality of life. Despite their importance, the DLS of adolescents with high functioning ASD are often 6-8 years below their chronological age and fall far below what would be expected based on their cognitive abilities. However, DLS are behaviors that can be explicitly taught using strategies that have been proven effective for individuals with high functioning ASD in acquiring skills in other areas. While the acquisition of DLS should be very amenable to intervention, there are currently no evidence-based group intervention packages that target DLS in adolescents with high functioning ASD. Our team recently completed a pre-post trial (n=7) of Surviving and Thriving in the Real World (STRW), a group treatment for adolescents with high functioning ASD and their parent that targets specific DLS (i.e., cooking, laundry, selfcare, and money management) using evidence based teaching strategies (e.g., task analysis, video modeling, technology). Results demonstrated significant gains in DLS from baseline to post-treatment for all participants. Over the course of a 12-week intervention, adolescent participants gained an average of 2-2.5 years of DLS, can be significantly reduced.



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