Process Evaluation of the BOOST-A™ Transition Planning Program for Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Strengths-Based Approach

Abstract

A process evaluation was conducted to determine the effectiveness, usability, and barriers and facilitators related to the Better OutcOmes & Successful Transitions for Autism (BOOST-A™), an online transition planning program. Adolescents on the autism spectrum (n = 33) and their parents (n = 39) provided feedback via an online questionnaire. Of these, 13 participants were interviewed to gain in-depth information about their experiences. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis. Four themes were identified: (i) taking action to overcome inertia, (ii) new insights that led to clear plans for the future, (iii) adolescent empowerment through strengths focus, and (iv) having a champion to guide the way. The process evaluation revealed why BOOST-A™ was beneficial to some participants more than others.

Trial registration #ACTRN12615000119594

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Professor Sylvia Rodger for her support and supervision in this trial.

Funding

An Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship and funding from the Australian Federal Government and Curtin University supported this study. The authors acknowledge the financial support of the Cooperative Research Centre for Living with Autism (Autism CRC), established and supported under the Australian Government’s Cooperative Research Centres Program. http://www.autismcrc.com.au/.

Authors’ Contribution

MH, MC, TF, MF contributed to the design of the trial. MH collected and analyzed the data, and drafted the manuscript. MC and MF completed a peer review and verified themes. MH, MC, TF, MF reviewed the manuscript. All authors read and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Megan Hatfield.

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Conflict of interest

MH developed the BOOST-A and was also the first author of the manuscript which describes the effectiveness of the BOOST-A. The design of the trial has taken this into account in order to minimize bias.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were granted formal approval from the Curtin University Human Research Ethics Committee (approval number HR110/2014), and by the Catholic Education Offices and the Departments of Education in Queensland, Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Tasmania. Informed consent was obtained from all adult participants in the study. For participants under 18 years of age, their parents provided written informed consent and the adolescent provided written informed assent. Names of participants reported in this paper have been replaced with a pseudonym.

Additional information

The BOOST-A™ trial was registered with the Australia and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry (#ACTRN12615000119594). The trial conformed to the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (National Health and Medical Research Council 2007b) and the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research (National Health and Medical Research Council 2007a).

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Study data will be placed on the Cooperative Research Centre data repository when the trial is finalized.

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Hatfield, M., Falkmer, M., Falkmer, T. et al. Process Evaluation of the BOOST-A™ Transition Planning Program for Adolescents on the Autism Spectrum: A Strengths-Based Approach. J Autism Dev Disord 48, 377–388 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-017-3317-8

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Keywords

  • Asperger’s syndrome
  • Employment
  • High school
  • Pervasive developmental disorder
  • Self-determination theory
  • Vocational education