Factors in Positive Outcomes for Children & Youth with Autism | SRI International

Toggle Menu
young girl at an activity station, looking up at the camera

Factors in Positive Outcomes for Children & Youth with Autism

SRI examined the effectiveness of academic, social/behavioral, and vocational interventions for students with autism.

The rapid growth in the number and diversity of children and youth served under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the category of autism represents a significant challenge for educators across the country.

There is still much to be learned about the types of school-related interventions that can be used to improve school and post-secondary school outcomes for students with autism. Such interventions may include:

  • Instructional programs and settings
  • Learning supports
  • Supplemental and related services
  • Accommodations and modifications

SRI’s research team used extant data from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS) and the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) to determine what school-related interventions were associated with outcomes for children and youth with autism throughout the school years and into early adulthood. Outcomes were explored in the following domains:

  • Academics – e.g., grades, high school graduation, college enrollment
  • Social/Behavioral – e.g., socializing with peers, participation in extracurricular activities, negative behaviors requiring disciplinary actions
  • Occupational – e.g., employment experiences during and after high school, employment earnings and stability
  • Independence outcomes – e.g., living independently, driving privileges, independent functioning in the community

For each domain, the researchers conducted initial exploratory and descriptive analyses, followed by propensity score analyses. Variables related to the student's demographics, family characteristics, disability and functioning, and school and social experiences before the intervention were used to create propensity scores to match students with similar characteristics but different intervention participation.

This project was funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences, award number R324A120012. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or polices of the U.S. Department of Education.