Interventions for Transition-Age Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Meta-Analysis
Objectives: In this meta-analysis we examined high school intervention studies, considered broadly, for individuals diagnosed with ASD, Intellectual Disability, or Severe/Multiple Disabilities. Our primary aim was to determine the summary effect of high school interventions, and the effect size estimates across all intervention types. For the purpose of this presentation, we will focus solely on the reports that included individuals with ASD.
Methods: Electronic databases were the primary method to search for published journal articles and dissertations/theses. Attempts to locate “grey literature” were also employed through hand searching past conference proceedings and peer-reviewed journals. Researchers who previously presented on topics related to transition-age youth, were emailed with a request to provide unpublished data relevant to the current analysis. A graduate student screened each article based on inclusion criteria. If studies did not meet the criteria, they were eliminated from the meta-analysis; however, articles that appeared to meet this inclusion criteria, went on for a complete review of the text.
Results: Our search yielded a total of 18 reports and 208 effect sizes (see Figure 1 for a detailed description of the elimination process). Of the 18 studies included in the overall analysis, 8 included adolescent or young adult participants with ASD (n = 78). The forest plot in Figure 2 reveals a significant summary effect size for studies that introduced interventions for high school students with ASD. Because there were fewer than five studies in each intervention category, the findings could not be parsed out based on the type of intervention that was administered.
Conclusions: The small number of studies included in this meta-analysis further highlights the lack of knowledge there is regarding the benefits of interventions for individuals with ASD as they prepare for adulthood. Future research should continue to use rigorous methodologies to investigate transition interventions, and their impact on social-ecological factors that are considered important to autistic adults (Anderson, Roux, Kuo, & Shattuck, 2018).