Multi-Informant Assessment of Transition-Related Skills and Skill Importance in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Saturday, May 13, 2017: 12:00 PM-1:40 PM
Golden Gate Ballroom (Marriott Marquis Hotel)
K. Hume1, J. Dykstra Steinbrenner2, L. E. Smith DaWalt3 and T. Regan4, (1)University of North Carolina, Chapel HIll, Carrboro, NC, (2)Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, Carrboro, NC, (3)Waisman Center-University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, (4)UNC-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Background: Post-high school outcomes are bleak for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). One malleable contributor to post-school outcomes is the quality of the transition plans developed as part of the Individualized Education Plan. The Secondary School Success Checklist (SSSC) is a new measure developed to allow students across the spectrum to describe their current skill level in transition-related domains as well as rank their priorities for goal setting, thus actively contributing to the transition planning process. The SSSC is designed to collect data from the perspective of multiple informants including the student, their parents, and the student’s teacher.

Objectives: This study examines (a) the transition-related skill level of adolescents with ASD as reported by each respondent group, (b) the perceived importance of each skill across respondent group, and (c) the relationships between the rankings of each respondent group.

Methods: Data were drawn from a larger ongoing RCT of high school students with ASD. The sample includes 547 adolescents (mean age= 16.4; mean nonverbal IQ=85.8; mean Vineland=75.8) and their parents from 3 states. The student version of the SSSC has 20 items, each which is linked to key items on the teacher and parent versions (105 items). Both sets of items were representative of four key domains: independent behavior, transition, social, and academic. For each item, participants indicated on a Likert-type scale if the behavior was: 0=“not like me”, 1=“like me”, or 2 = “much like me”. Respondents also provided a priority ranking for learning each item. Mean levels of skill performance and importance were reported across domain and informant, and differences between groups and domains were examined. The inter-rater reliability across respondents for skill level and priority scores were conducted, and we ran paired sample t-tests to determine which domains were rated as most important by informant group.

Results: Adolescents rated themselves as higher skilled on SSSC items than did parents or teachers. Teachers rated most skills higher than parents. There were significant differences across the informant groups, with differences on up to 18 of 20 items (adolescent- parent) and very low agreement across raters (weighted Cohen’s kappa= adolescents with parents, .10 and teachers .11; parents and teachers=.20). Although the ratings varied, there was some agreement in the ranking of the highest and lowest rated skills across all three groups. Adolescents consistently had lower percentages on items marked as a priority across skills and informant group. Parents were most likely to rate skills as a priority for learning.

Conclusions: This is the first study to examine the perceived skill level and importance of transition-related skills among adolescents with ASD, their parents, and teachers. This is the largest current sample of adolescents with ASD and this data provides an important snapshot into student performance of key transition-related skills, providing a profile of both student strengths and needs as reported by multiple informants. The findings provide guidance for staff and families during the transition planning process, as well as inform researchers on intervention development/ implementation to ensure priorities are addressed.