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Anxiety and Depression Reduction as Distal Outcomes of a College Transition Readiness Program for Adults with Autism

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Abstract

Young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience increased rates of anxiety and depression which can impact academic success. The Stepped Transition in Education Program for Students with ASD (STEPS) applies cognitive-behavioral principles to help young adults with ASD improve their adjustment to postsecondary education. We aimed to determine if STEPS had an effect on anxiety and depression. Treatment-seeking adults with ASD (n = 32; Mage = 19.74) were randomized to STEPS or transition as usual (TAU; i.e., waitlist control group). STEPS participants evinced significantly greater declines in depressive symptoms from pre-treatment to post-treatment compared to the waitlist. Anxiety symptoms did not significantly change. Results suggest that transition support for young people with ASD may improve mental health.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health, Grant R34MH104337 [PI: White]. We acknowledge the NIMH for its support and the many colleagues who assisted us with various aspects of the present research. We also thank the participants who participated in this study.

Funding

This project was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, Grant R34MH104337 [PI: White].

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NCH proposed the research question, conducted the data analyses, and contributed to writing the paper. AB assisted with data analyses and contributed to writing the paper. JG contributed to writing and editing the paper. SWW PI of the grant supporting this research, co-designed and executed the study, contributed to writing and editing the paper.

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Correspondence to Nicole N. Capriola-Hall.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All study procedures were approved by the institutional review board for human subject research. All participants provided informed consent.

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Capriola-Hall, N.N., Brewe, A.M., Golt, J. et al. Anxiety and Depression Reduction as Distal Outcomes of a College Transition Readiness Program for Adults with Autism. J Autism Dev Disord 51, 298–306 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04549-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-020-04549-6

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