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.
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 disabilities. It is a soft skills training program originally 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. The manualized curriculum has since been adapted to be inclusive of various other disabilities. Throughout a 13-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 disabilities, the ASSET curriculum can be incorporated easily into existing school and community based programs.
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 originally developed for youth with ASD, ages 14 to 25, both in and out of school, who are actively seeking employment. The manualized curriculum has since been adapted to be inclusive of various other disabilities. Throughout a 13-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 youth with disabilities and assist them in obtaining and sustaining employment in a more effective manner.
- Community Partnership on ASSET-EPASS Programs
The ASSET/EPASS team from MSU has partnered with Disability Network-Capital Area (DN-Cap), Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), and Ingham Intermediate School District (ISD) to implement the manualized ASSET-EPASS curriculums in area high schools. This initiative will support Juniors and Seniors in the Ingham School District to participate in the ASSET-EPASS programs during the structured school day. With assistance from the team at MSU, staff from DN-Cap will facilitate weekly sessions with a group of students with varying disabilities. The first 13-session program (ASSET) addresses the following competencies for workplace success: Communication; Networking; Enthusiasm and Attitude; Teamwork; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking; and Professionalism. The second 13-session program, 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. At the end of this 26 session intervention, MRS will work with the participating students to find community-based work experience to implement the knowledge gained throughout ASSET-EPASS.
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 seeks to create an extended transition experience for persons with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities to prepare them for independent living and employment.
- Navigation Training
The purpose of this program is to assist Project SEARCH interns in learning to navigate the community via public transportation to increase independence and community engagement and to provide Project SEARCH interns with the ability to travel to and from work independently and to navigate to various internship sites taking the bus.
- Peer Mentoring
The purpose of this program is to assist Project SEARCH interns in developing and maintaining social skills which will increase success in Project SEARCH internship rotations and future employment; and to promote civic engagement in the MSU campus community.
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.