Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology


Clinical Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, vi, 126 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Kristin V Christodulu

Committee Members

Melissa Rinaldi, Elana Gordis


Autism, Autism spectrum disorder, High School, Transition, Autism spectrum disorders, Youth with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger's syndrome in adolescence, Autism in adolescence, People with disabilities

Subject Categories

Clinical Psychology


In the years following high school, young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) report lower rates of employment, post-secondary education, and independent living than do individuals with other disabilities (Newman et al., 2011). Though evidence-based practices exist to support individuals with disabilities generally during the transition from high school to post-school education or employment, little research has focused on evidence-based practices specifically targeting high school students with ASD (Test, Smith, & Carter, 2014). The present study utilized a mixed methods approach to investigate barriers to the implementation of effective transition services for adolescents with ASD. In Phase 1, parents, school professionals, and community professionals participated in focus group discussions about barriers that exist during the transition process. Focus group transcripts were analyzed using a constant comparative approach (Boeije, 2002). In Phase 2, focus group themes were placed into a survey, which was completed by a larger group of stakeholders within the ASD community. Results of both phases indicated that social skills challenges, mental health, independent living skills, service availability and access, and employment-related challenges function as barriers not only to the implementation of transition services, but also to a successful transition more generally. Though many of the barriers described in the present study are addressed in best practice recommendations and model transition programs currently in development for individuals with ASD (e.g., Odom et al., 2014; Wehman et al., 2013), stakeholders also described some barriers that are not adequately addressed within existing models. More work is needed to sufficiently address both core and associated characteristics of ASD during the transition process.