Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 47, Issue 10, pp 3072–3078 | Cite as

Development of a College Transition and Support Program for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Susan W. White
  • Rebecca Elias
  • Nicole N. Capriola-Hall
  • Isaac C. Smith
  • Caitlin M. Conner
  • Susan B. Asselin
  • Patricia Howlin
  • Elizabeth E. Getzel
  • Carla A. Mazefsky
Original Paper


Empirically based, consumer-informed programming to support students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) transitioning to college is needed. Informed by theory and research, the Stepped Transition in Education Program for Students with ASD (STEPS) was developed to address this need. The first level (Step 1) supports high school students and the second level (Step 2) is for postsecondary students with ASD. Herein, we review the extant research on transition supports for emerging adults with ASD and describe the development of STEPS, including its theoretical basis and how it was informed by consumer input. The impact of STEPS on promotion of successful transition into college and positive outcomes for students during higher education is currently being evaluated in a randomized controlled trial.


Autism College Transition Adult 



This study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (R34MH104337).

Author Contributions

SW conceived of the study, led development of STEPS, oversaw the evaluation study, and led writing of this manuscript. RE, NC, IS, and CC participated in evaluation of STEPS and implementation of the program, and provided input on program development. SA, EG, PH, and CM provided consultation on development of STEPS and the conduct of the RCT. All authors contributed to the present manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no potential conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained prior to data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan W. White
    • 1
  • Rebecca Elias
    • 1
  • Nicole N. Capriola-Hall
    • 1
  • Isaac C. Smith
    • 1
  • Caitlin M. Conner
    • 1
  • Susan B. Asselin
    • 2
  • Patricia Howlin
    • 3
  • Elizabeth E. Getzel
    • 4
  • Carla A. Mazefsky
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Child Study CenterVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  2. 2.School of EducationVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College London, Brain and Mind CentreUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  4. 4.Center on Transition InnovationsVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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