“We Can See a Bright Future”: Parents’ Perceptions of the Outcomes of Participating in a Strengths-Based Program for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Abstract

Autistic individuals often possess strengths and abilities. Despite these strengths, employment outcomes for this population remain low. Strengths-based programs, focusing on developing skills in a supportive environment, may enable autistic adolescents to more effectively prepare for the workforce. This study explores the principal components and associated outcomes of a strengths-based program designed to support autistic children and adolescents to develop interests and skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. The baseline results of 52 parents of autistic youth participating in a 3-year longitudinal survey study were explored, with results showing that according to parents the program positively impacted participants’ sense of belonging, confidence and self-esteem, health and well-being, social relationships and interactions, and activities and participation.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded by the Ian Potter Foundation (Grant No. 20170356), Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and Bennelong Foundation. The authors were particularly grateful to the study participants.

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Authors

Contributions

EALL participated in the study design, coordinated data collection, performed data analysis, interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript. MHB contributed to the interpretation of the data and draft of the manuscript. MF contributed to the study design, interpretation of the data and draft of the manuscript. TT contributed to the study design and draft of the manuscript. LS contributed to the collection of data and draft of the manuscript. SB contributed to the design of the study, interpretation of the data and draft of the manuscript. SG participated in the study design, contributed to the interpretation of the data and draft of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Elinda Ai Lim Lee.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Sven Bölte declares no direct conflict of interest related to this article. Bölte discloses that he has in the last 5 years acted as an author, consultant or lecturer for Shire/Takeda, Medice, Roche, Eli Lilly, Prima Psychiatry, and SB Education and Psychological Consulting AB. He receives royalties for text books and diagnostic tools from Huber/Hogrefe, Kohlhammer and UTB.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were 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.

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Informed consent was obtained from all participating parents included in the study.

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Appendices

Appendix A

See Fig. 3.

Fig. 3
figure3

Scree plot for principal component analysis with oblimin rotation

Appendix B

See Table 7.

Table 7 Structure matrix for principle component analysis with oblimin rotation of three-factor solution

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Lee, E.A.L., Black, M.H., Falkmer, M. et al. “We Can See a Bright Future”: Parents’ Perceptions of the Outcomes of Participating in a Strengths-Based Program for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 50, 3179–3194 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04411-9

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Strengths-based program
  • Special interests
  • Transition to adulthood