MSU lands $1M grant to develop job-related skills for autistic youth

FILE - (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – Even with more focus on autism there is a need to help autistic youth and young adults develop workplace social skills.

There are only a few programs that focus on growing those skills.

A $1.4 million federal grant will help a Michigan State University researcher continue to grow a program she developed to help autistic youth make the move from high school to adulthood.

Researcher Connie Sung has seen promising results already.

With the support of the grant Sung and her team will begin gathering more information that will be used to improve the Assistive Social Skills and Employment Training program.

They’ll work with up to six high school age students to focus on communication, teamwork, problem-solving and professionalism.

Once that group completes the ten-week program they will graduate to sessions more focused on finding employment and creating resumes.

“With the pilot, we have seen not only a significant improvement in their social communication skills but also their level of confidence for handling issues that could come up while working,” said Sung, assistant professor of rehabilitation counseling. “It will be exciting to expand the research and eventually disseminate something that teachers and counselors can implement in their own communities.”

The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Defense Autism Research Program.

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