Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of JIT-TAY compared to transition services as usual. Participants (16 - 25 years old) recruited from two high schools (1 public, 1 charter) were randomized to receive either JIT-TAY (n=17) or SAU (n=8) using a 2:1 randomization scheme. ASD diagnosis was established using individualized education plan (IEP) classification or a non-specific diagnosis on the autism spectrum using the Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS). The SRS also provides a level of ASD symptom severity. Job interview role plays and self-report measures of self-confidence, anxiety, and motivation around job interviews were obtained pre- and post-intervention. Teachers provided students with an orientation on how to use JIT-TAY via laptop computer during transition class periods.
Results: The JIT-TAY and SAU groups did not differ with respect to their autism symptom severity, age, gender distribution, and parental educational attainment. Participants randomized to receive JIT-TAY demonstrated a 27.5% decrease in self-reported interviewing anxiety between pre-test and post-test (Cohen’s d = -0.60), compared to a 4.9% decrease in self-reported interviewing anxiety for SAU between pre-test and post-test (Cohen’s d = -0.08). JIT-TAY and SAU students did not differ between pre-test and post-test on self-report measures of interviewing motivation and confidence. In addition, 100% of students reported that JIT-TAY somewhat to very easy to use; helped them prepare to interview; 94% reported JIT-TAY was enjoyable; and 90% reported JIT-TAY fit their learning goals and it was easy to pay attention when learning to use the tool. Lastly, 50% of students took time to say the wrong answer on purpose to learn what would happen.
Conclusions and Implications: The delivery of evidence-based job interviewing training is a major gap in transition services for TAY-ASD. Our preliminary data suggests that JIT-TAY is a highly acceptable tool by TAY-ASD who have reduced anxiety about the interview process. Interviewing anxiety is a known mechanism of interview performance and may help facilitate access to employment. Future research will examine the how JIT-TAY usage translates into community-based employment.