Session: Social Change in Autism: Culturally-Tailored and Behavioral Interventions Supporting Autistic Youth, Adults and Their Families (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

5 Social Change in Autism: Culturally-Tailored and Behavioral Interventions Supporting Autistic Youth, Adults and Their Families

Wednesday, January 20, 2021: 1:30 PM-2:30 PM
Cluster: Disability
Symposium Organizer:
Matthew Smith, PhD, MSW, LCSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Our symposia highlights research evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, efficacy, and effectiveness of four different interventions designed to enhance the lives of autistic youth, adults and their families. The interventions use technology- and community-based methods to target a range of disparities and social challenges faced by families including outcomes around family psychoeducation and health, use of evidence-based practice, cognitive ability, and applied social behavior. Moreover, the studies are deeply aligned with several of the Grand Challenges of Social Work (e.g., Ensuring Healthy Development for All Youth; Harness Technology for Social Good).

Paper one reports on a community-based culturally tailored non-randomized, non-controlled pilot evaluation of a Health Promotion Program for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from Korean Immigrant Families. The author recruited 15 children with ASD to participate in a 7-week health promotion intervention that consisted of weekly 30-minute nutrition education sessions and 45-minute physical activity sessions. The Health Promotion Program was found acceptable and feasibly implemented for the youth with ASD. Moreover, the youth demonstrated significant gains in nutrition knowledge and increased physical activity.

Paper two presents the results of a randomized controlled trial that evaluated the feasibility and effectiveness of a virtual job interview tool designed to meet the specific needs of autistic transition-age youth. After a 6-week school-based, teacher-led implementation, the investigators observed the implementation of the tool was feasible and reported as acceptable by the autistic youth. Findings suggested the virtual interview group (n=48) improved their job interview skills and reduced their job interview anxiety as compared to a services as usual group (n=23).

Paper three shares the results of a randomized controlled trial that confirmed the efficacy of cognitive enhancement treatment (CET; consisting of 60 hours of computerized cognitive training and 45 social cognitive remediation groups) when compared to enriched supportive therapy (EST; a talk therapy focused on psychoeducation and stress management). After an 18-month University-based, researcher-led implementation, the investigators observed participants in the CET group (n=42), as compared to the EST group (n=40) demonstrated enhanced neurocognitive and social cognitive abilities that translated into greater real-world functioning in the community.

Paper four presents results of whether findings from a two-site randomized controlled trial of a culturally tailored parent education intervention are maintained overtime. Parents Taking Action (PTA) was designed to empower Latinx mothers of children with ASD to make informed decisions about using evidence-based services to support their children. Original findings found that the intervention was efficacious four months after baseline. The present analysis examined whether these findings were maintained eight months after baseline. Consistent with original the pre-posttest study, the investigators observed the PTA group (n=42), compared to controls (n=54), had greater confidence in and use of evidence-based services to support their children; and the children with ASD were more likely to receive typical and evidence-based services compared to controls eight months after baseline.

Discussant: Ms. Denise Juliano-Bult is Chief of the Systems Research and Equity in Mental Health Services Research Programs. Ms. Juliano-Bult leads the NIMH portfolio on autism services research across the lifespan.

* noted as presenting author
Virtual Interview Training for Autistic Transition-Age Youth: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Matthew Smith, PhD, MSW, LCSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Kari Sherwood, MS, MEd, MSW, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Brittany Ross, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; Jd Smith, PhD, Northwestern University; Leann S. DaWalt, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Lauren Bishop, PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Laura Humm, BA; Jeff Elkins, SIMmersion LLC; Chris Steacy, SIMmersion LLC
Cognitive Enhancement Therapy for Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder: Interim Results from an Ongoing Confirmatory Efficacy Trial
Shaun M. Eack, PhD, University of Pittsburgh; Susan Hogarty, MSN, University of Pittsburgh; Maralee Y. Litschge, MSW; Shannon Porton, University of Pittsburgh
Reducing Disparities for Latinx Children with ASD and Their Families: Evidence from a Two-Site RCT Study at 8-Month Follow up
Weiwen Zeng, MSSc, University of Texas at Austin; Sandy Magana, PhD, University of Texas at Austin; Kristina Lopez, PhD, Arizona State University
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