Our Research

The following research projects are designed to examine barriers and facilitators to effective school-to-work transition for youth/young adults with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Through the identification and strengthening of targeted skills, these studies aim to increase effective social participation in both community and work environments for persons with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

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ASSET (Assistive Social Skills & Employment Training) Program for Individuals with Autism

The purpose of the ASSET program is to offer a manualized soft skills intervention for trainers, an effective and comprehensive  learning experience for participants, and empirical support for the use of this intervention for individuals with ASD. It is a soft skills training program developed for youth with ASD, ages 14 to 25, both in and out of school, who are seeking employment or who wish to maintain employment by improving work-related soft skills. Throughout a 10-week curriculum offered in a group setting, ASSET addresses the following competencies for workplace success: Communication; Networking; Enthusiasm and Attitude; Teamwork; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking; and Professionalism. Using a customized and easy to follow training manual with weekly activities and learning objectives tailored for youth with ASD, the ASSET curriculum can be incorporated easily into existing school and community based programs.

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EPASS (Employment Preparation And Skills Support)

The purpose of the EPASS program is to offer a manualized multicomponent, technology-assisted employment readiness intervention, which provides participants with a functional level of job readiness skills in an efficient manner and improves the hireability and job performance of participants. It is an employment readiness skills training program developed for youth with ASD, ages 14 to 25, both in and out of school, who are actively seeking employment. Throughout a 12-week curriculum offered in a group setting, EPASS addresses the following competencies for employment readiness: Goal & Job Interest; Job Search; Job Application; Job Interview; First Day on the Job; and Job Maintenance. The innovative training approach offered by EPASS, which is different from other existing vocational training programs, will be most customized and beneficial to learning modality of individuals with ASD and assist them in obtaining and sustaining employment in a more effective manner.

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Spartan Project SEARCH

Co-directed by Dr. Connie Sung, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling, Spartan Project SEARCH brings a successful national program for young adults with developmental disabilities to the campus of Michigan State University, one of 12 program sites starting in Michigan. Participants will experience classroom and on-the-job learning in a variety of settings—with leadership and expertise from researchers in the MSU College of Education. The program provides career training and transition support services to individuals with developmental disabilities preparing for transition from high school services to post-secondary and independent living. This project seek to create an extended transition experience for persons with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities to prepare them for independent living and employment.

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Career Collaborative

Careers Collaborative is a unique first of a kind program in partnership with Michigan Rehabilitation Services, MSU Career Services, and the MSU Rehabilitation Counseling program. This collaborative intends to strengthen leadership with focus on career transition for students with disabilities and accelerate awareness of the interactions of disabilities in the career preparation process in turn helping accelerate positive career outcomes for students with a range of disabilities. Students gain a full-time on-campus vocational rehabilitation counselor and specialized guidance with new synergies among several campus departments intent on strong student outcomes. This partnership enhances student outcomes by connecting academics with practical experience, deliberative vocational rehabilitation approaches and employer partnership for internships and careers.

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