IWGA's Review of Research | July 17, 2017
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Review of Research is a monthly update on current research and study outcomes from an array of professional publications.
If you have any questions regarding this information, please contact:

Melissa H. Bacon, OCALI Program Director – Policy and Interagency Collaboration
470 E. Glenmont Ave. | Columbus, OH 43214 | (614) 578-6630 (mobile)

Wehman, P., Brooke, V., Brooke, A. M., Ham, W., Schall, C., McDonough, J., ... & Avellone, L. (2016). Employment for adults with autism spectrum disorders:
A retrospective review of a customized employment approach. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 53, 61-72.

This study included 64 individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who were receiving supported employment services from a university-based employment service organization certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). Each subject was paired with an employment specialist who provided the following supported employment services: 

  • Step 1: Development of Jobseeker Profile: The goal of this initial step was to determine the skills, interests, and desires of the person that best matched a given job description. These data were collected through interviews, observations, situational assessments, and discovery. Situational assessments consisted of having the individual perform work tasks for four hours in a job setting that matched his or her interests. Discovery, in turn, consisted of the individual actively exploring job options out in the community.
  • Step 2: Job Development and Career Search: In this step, the skills needed to attain the job identified in Step 1 were explicitly taught. Most of the subjects participated in a modified job interview, called a “working interview.” For this type of interview, the employer observed the individual with ASD performing the tasks of the job rather than conducting a verbal face-to-face interview.
  • Step 3: Job Site Training and Support: Each individual with ASD was given an iPod Touch equipped with apps to support their independence. The apps consisted of routine checklists, tasks broken down into smaller steps, visual cues for social interaction and emotional coping, timers for transitioning to a new task, and audio cues for production. The employment specialist provided instruction in how to use the apps.
  • Step 4: Long-Term Support/Job Retention: Each individual with ASD received varied levels of long-term job supports depending on their progress towards independence.

As a result of the intervention, 98% of the individuals with ASD obtained employment in 72 different job positions. Of these, 77% ASD had never previously been employed.


Jamison, T. R., & Schuttler, J. O. (2017). Overview and preliminary evidence for a social skills and self-care curriculum for adolescent females with autism: The girls night out model. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 47(1), 110-125.

The majority of the research targeting social skills within the ASD community has been conducted with males.
Girls Night Out Intervention
Girls Night Out (GNO) is a social skills and self-care program for adolescent females with ASD utilizing typically developing peers to teach, mediate, and reinforce the skills outlined in the program. Each instructional session was comprised of an age-appropriate activity implemented in various community settings (e.g., make-up store, clothing store, fitness center, and other community settings that adolescent females are likely to encounter). The instructional techniques used for each session included (a) viewing video models of desired behaviors, (b) role-play, (c) delivery of tokens as reinforcement for exhibiting targeted skills, (d) goal setting, (e) self-monitoring, and (f) a daily planner that depicted visual cues for desired social and self-care skills.
Social competence (relating to others, self-perception, self-determination), self-care skills (appropriate clothing, body care, and health), and quality of life were measured using three standardized tests administered to the participants with ASD and their parents before and after the implementation of GNO. Results indicated significant higher scores on each standardized posttest (after GNO was implemented) and high satisfaction reports from both the individuals with ASD and their parents.   


Kirby, A. V., Boyd, B. A., Williams, K. L., Faldowski, R. A., & Baranek, G. T. (2017). Sensory and repetitive behaviors among children with autism spectrum disorder at home. Autism, 21(2), 142-154.

Thirty-two children with ASD (ages 2-12 years old) were observed in their homes as a means of examining four common types of behaviors exhibited by individuals with ASD: (a) hyper-responsive: avoiding certain situations or demonstrating a negative or exaggerated response (e.g., cover ears when the water is running or leaving the room); (b) hypo-responsive: failure to respond to a given situation within 5 seconds (e.g., child doesn’t notice something obvious); (c) sensory-seeking: persisting in behaviors that provide intense, unusual, or prolonged sensory input (visual, taste, etc.); and (d) repetitive/stereotypic:  engaging in the same behaviors for longer than 5 seconds or three repetitions of a specific unusual behavior.
The following data provide insight into when and under what conditions these types of behaviors, which often create challenges, may occur at home. (Hypo-responsive behaviors were not included in this study because they were rarely observed).

Graphic of Testing Conditions per Behavior Type and Situation at Home


Corona, L. L., Christodulu, K. V., & Rinaldi, M. L. (2017). Investigation of school professionals’ self-efficacy for working with students with ASD: Impact of prior experience, knowledge, and training. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 19(2), 90-102.

Self-efficacy is an important quality for professionals who work with individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) given their history of high burnout rates due to the unique needs of individuals with ASD (Coman et al., 2013; Lovannone et al., 2003). This study examined predictors of self-efficacy (as measured by the Autism Self-Efficacy Scale for Teachers) among school professionals working with individuals with ASD and the impact of training on knowledge about ASD and self-efficacy. The authors defined self-efficacy as the belief that one is capable of producing the behavior required to bring about a desired outcome (Bandura, 1977).

  • Training related to ASD and positive behavior supports (PBS) were consistent predictors of self-efficacy among teachers working with individuals with ASD.
  • Increased knowledge was reported as an outcome of training related to ASD and PBS.
  • Prior experience working with students with ASD and knowledge about ASD were not predictors of self-efficacy among teachers. Both teacher reports and empirical research (Ruble et al., 2011) have suggested that each student with ASD has a unique set of needs and that, therefore, prior experience does not always result in teachers being successful with current students with ASD.
  • Teachers with prior experience have not always received consistent and ongoing training related to ASD and PBS.
  • Teacher reports of high burnout rates were associated with feelings of low self-efficacy.
In summary, the findings highlight the need for ongoing training that may result in two important outcomes: (a) increased knowledge and skills needed to be successful when working with students with ASD and (b) increased feelings of self-efficacy that may be a predictor that reduces the likelihood of burnout.

Im, D. S. (2016). Trauma as a contributor to violence in autism spectrum disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 44(2), 184-192.

The neurobiology of individuals with ASD was compared to that of individuals without ASD at risk for violence who had experienced trauma. The goal of the analysis was to identify factors contributing to the association between trauma and violence in individuals with ASD.
The study showed that individuals who have experienced trauma have impaired development and dysfunctions in the regions of the brain that increase the likelihood of engaging in violent behavior (prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala, etc.). Moreover, dysfunction in these brain regions is associated with the core symptoms of ASD. Therefore, individuals with ASD who experience trauma may have an increased likelihood of engaging in violent behavior. Furthermore, individuals with ASD who have experienced trauma may exhibit difficulties with processing these traumatic experiences due to the core symptoms of ASD. For example, they may excessively fixate on the traumatic situation, demonstrate poor emotional regulation, and exhibit inflexible thinking for alternative coping strategies. In conclusion, the dysfunctions of the regions of the brain and the core symptoms associated with ASD may cause individuals with ASD to be particularly sensitive to the effects of trauma, thus increasing the probability of violent behavior. 

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