Adapting Virtual Reality Job-Interview Training for Transition-Age Youth on the Autism Spectrum

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 2, 2019: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Room: 710 (Palais des congres de Montreal)
M. Smith1, R. Pinto2, L. E. Smith DaWalt3, J. D. Smith4, K. Sherwood5, J. L. Taylor6, K. Hume7, T. Dawkins8, M. Baker-Ericzen9, T. W. Frazier10, C. Steacy11 and L. Humm12, (1)University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, (2)Social Work, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, (3)University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center, Madison, WI, (4)Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, (5)University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI, (6)Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Nashville, TN, (7)Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, (8)University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, (9)Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, San Diego, CA, (10)Autism Speaks, New York, NY, (11)SIMmersion LLC, Columbia, MD, (12)SIMmersion, Columbia, MD
Background: Virtual Reality Job-Interview Training (VR-JIT) is an efficacious Internet-based intervention for adults with severe mental illness (SMI). Evaluations of VR-JIT have shown improved interview skill and access to employment in several cohorts of adults with SMI and with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). VR-JIT trains participants how to fill out job applications and handle job interviews. Trainees receive feedback through in-the-moment nonverbal cues, critiques, and recommendations for improving performance.

Objectives: Our study sought to adapt VR-JIT for transition-age youth with ASD (TAY-ASD) by recruiting TAY-ASD and adult stakeholders to review VR-JIT and provide their feedback on how to optimize its accessibility and acceptability.

Methods: We recruited n=24 TAY-ASD and n=21 adult stakeholders from public and charter schools, transition programs, and community service providers. Participants provided feedback on VR-JIT to enhance its applicability to TAY-ASD. We analyzed data from TAY-ASD and stakeholders, presented their quantitative and qualitative responses to community and scientific advisory boards for review and recommendations, and adapted the intervention design and content.

Results: Our adaptations included adding diversity (gender; race/ethnicity) to the virtual hiring manager; shortening the interview by reducing response options; increasing social storytelling to enhance engagement with VR-JIT core components; adding employment opportunities more relevant to younger workers; reducing the reading level; adding bullet points, voiceover, and imagery/video; and adding new learning goals.

Conclusions: This study presents a rigorous and innovative methodology for adapting VR-JIT to meet the needs of TAY-ASD. We review our engagement with TAY-ASD and stakeholders, and discuss the standardized coding scheme we used to adapt VR-JIT and the usefulness and limitations of employing this methodology in adapting other behavioral interventions.