An Ideal Model for Transitional Programs for Autistic Youth: Evaluating the High School to Employment Programs for Autistic Youth in Georgetown, TX
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Purpose: The purpose of this applied research project is threefold. First, it describes the ideal components of an effective transitional program for youth with ASD transitioning from high school to employment in a community. Second, it assesses the transitional programs from high school to employment for youth with ASD who reside in Georgetown, TX. Third, it provides recommendations for improving the transitional programs for youth with ASD who reside in Georgetown, TX. Methodology: The components of an effective transitional program for youth with ASD transitioning from high school to employment identified in the literature led to the development of a conceptual framework. This framework allowed the researcher to develop an assessment tool designed to gauge the transitional programs for youth with ASD from high school to employment in Georgetown, TX. An assessment is accomplished through the use of a case study approach employing multiple methods. The methods used to collect data include interviews, document analysis, nonparticipation observations of public presentations, and survey research. Findings: Results indicate that the Georgetown Independent School District (GISD) has an outstanding transitional program/process for youth with ASD. There were only a few recommendations for GISD, such as having a self-determination curriculum, having a policy requiring transition meeting facilitators to use person-centered-planning (PCP), and training general education teachers on how to best work with students with ASD. At the state level process, the state agency provides most of the elements identified as best practices transitional programs for this population. Recommendations for the state include having policies to use PCP, video modeling and covert audio coaching for this population, and limiting the number of clients their Rehabilitative Counselors can have on their caseloads. At the community level process, there are several recommendations, as only a few of the agencies offer some of the elements identified as best practices for this population. Several major concerns for the community level process include only 45% of the agencies have specialized case managers to work with this population; 50% of the agencies complete employment plans; 30% of agencies use rehabilitative technology; 44% offer supported employment; 25% offer vocational training; none of the organizations offer a specialized vocational training in a field that has been proven to help this population gain competitive employment; and only 38% collaborate with other agencies to assist this population.