Re-imagine transition and adult success: a critical reflection program for parents of transition-aged youth with autism spectrum disorder involving disability studies
Patel, Janvi S.
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Current research highlights that adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are less likely to pursue and complete post-secondary education, less likely to obtain and maintain employment, have fewer social supports or friends, and are less likely to maintain independent living arrangements compared to their peers without disabilities or with other disabilities (Newman et al., 2011). These traditional markers of post-transition success embody medicalized conceptualizations of disability by implying that adolescents with ASD lack inherent skills to engage in post-secondary education, competitive employment, maintain friendships, live independently, etc. (Smith & Routel, 2010). This perpetuates disabling roles in adolescents with ASD and restricts the ways in which they can successfully participate as adult members in their communities by failing to consider the impact of social and attitudinal barriers on adulthood outcomes. Current intervention approaches to address transition primarily target the adolescent by building skills in the aforementioned areas, while few consider the role that their parents play in facilitating adolescents’ transitions (Hendricks & Wehman, 2009; Taylor et al., 2012; Whitney-Thomas, McIntyre, Butterworth, & Allen, 2004). Those interventions that do target parents of transition-aged youth with ASD focus primarily on understanding the complexities of the adult service system for individuals with disabilities, and/or the clinical presentation of autism (Taylor, Hodapp, Burke, Waitz-Kudla, & Rabideau, 2017). Similarly, a lack of evidence-based programs exists for parents of children with disabilities to explore their biases, attitudes and assumptions for more positive disability acceptance. Re-Imagine Transition and Adult Success is a theory-driven and evidence-based critical reflection program for parents of transition-aged youth with ASD that seeks to integrate disability studies content into transition planning. The course is an innovative approach to addressing transition issues in adolescents with ASD as it considers the impact of social and attitudinal barriers on this population’s success in adulthood. Employing reflective learning tenants, the program aims to increase parents’ knowledge about disability studies concepts, apply these concepts to the transition process, and support parents to become critically aware of their own assumptions regarding disability and adulthood success.
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