My Life as an Epic Win: Evaluating the Effects of a Transition to Adulthood Course on the Self-Determined Behaviours of Young Adults With High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Individuals with High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder (HFASD) are facing significant challenges transitioning out of high school and into adulthood. With the lack of support during this critical transition period, many young adults with HFASD find themselves depending on support from parents, being underemployed, struggling with further education and independence, and often develop mental health challenges. Recent research literature on self-determination and transition to adulthood provided strong correlational evidence that transition to adulthood programs focused on teaching self-determination are associated with better employment opportunities, higher quality education, independent living, improved social relationships, and positive leisure and recreational outcomes. The My Life as an Epic Win was adapted based on the self-determination model to teach individuals with HFASD acquisition of self-determined behaviours (i.e., goal setting and action planning, self-awareness of supports and strengths and weaknesses, problem solving, and self-management). The current study looked to examine the effect of the Epic Win curriculum on self-determination and self-determined behaviours for five participants, who had all been diagnosed with HFASD. Self-determination and self-determined behaviours were evaluated by administration of two questionnaires, delivered pre- and post-Epic Win course. It was hypothesized that there would be an increase in self-determination and self-determined behaviours following the completion of the Epic Win course. All participants demonstrated an increase in self-determination; however these gains were not significant on a statistical level. A qualitative analysis of one of the questionnaires demonstrated that there were positive trends in the way the participants viewed themselves, as well as in their ability to develop clear and specific goals in the areas of work/career, continuing education, independence and relationships. The study’s results, limitations and future direction were discussed.