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Jones, M., Milbourn, B., Falkmer, M., Vinci, B., Tan, T., Bölte, S. & Girdler, S. (2023). A Practical Framework for Delivering Strength-Based Technology Clubs for Autistic Adolescents. Autism In Adulthood, 5(4), 356-365
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A Practical Framework for Delivering Strength-Based Technology Clubs for Autistic Adolescents
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2023 (English)In: Autism In Adulthood, ISSN 2573-9581, Vol. 5, no 4, p. 356-365Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Autistic individuals experience poor vocational outcomes internationally. Transition planning and interventions during adolescence may assist in improving outcomes in adulthood. Strength-based technology clubs show promise in improving outcomes for autistic adolescents by developing skills specific to the Information and Communication Technology industry, and fostering positive traits, such as self-determination. Although strength-based technology clubs have been examined with autistic adolescents, to date, no framework has been proposed to underpin their design and delivery. In this conceptual analysis, we propose a practical framework for delivering strength-based technology clubs for autistic adolescents. The framework builds on work from a previous systematic review of qualitative research and a realist evaluation study of technology clubs for autistic adolescents, combined with theoretical understandings from three health models. The new framework comprised the components of interests, value, autonomy, and requirements, forming the acronym IVAR. Interests refer to strategies drawing on adolescents' areas of interest. Value represents a culture of valuing autistic adolescents as individuals for their unique strengths and skills. Autonomy refers to providing opportunities for adolescents to make decisions, and Requirements refers to aspects of the social and physical environment. Practical recommendations of the framework are discussed, including design and delivery of future strength-based technology clubs, facilitator training, and design activities. The proposed IVAR framework may be useful in guiding the development of strength-based technology clubs. Future research is needed to validate the feasibility and efficacy of the IVAR framework in underpinning the delivery of strength-based technology clubs to autistic adolescents.

Community brief

Why is this topic important?

The shift from adolescence to adulthood can be challenging for young people on the autism spectrum, and opportunities for employment may be limited. Modern approaches to improving employment outcomes for autistic youth highlight the importance of adopting a strength-based framework, such as matching the strengths and interests of autistic young people to future career pathways. The strengths of many autistic individuals are considered beneficial for employment in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector. Strength-based technology clubs provide opportunities for autistic young people to develop their technological and social skills, meet role models working in the ICT industry, and help them to find work experience.

What was the purpose of this article?

The purpose of this article was to develop a new framework for delivering strength-based technology clubs to autistic adolescents. The development of this framework was guided by the authors' earlier work in this area.

What do the authors conclude?

The authors proposed a new framework for delivering strength-based technology clubs to autistic adolescents. The framework contains four components, creating the acronym IVAR: Interests, Value, Autonomy, and Requirements. The component, Interests, refers to strategies that draw on adolescents' areas of interest, such as changing activities to include adolescents' focused interests. Value represented a culture of valuing autistic adolescents as individuals for their unique strengths and skills. Autonomy refers to providing opportunities for adolescents to make decisions during the program, and Requirements refers to the design of the social and physical environment.

What do the authors recommend for future research on this topic?

The authors recommend that future research should focus on exploring how practical and appropriate the IVAR framework is in supporting the delivery of strength-based technology clubs for autistic adolescents. The four IVAR components are potentially applicable to other areas of community focus to guide strength-based approaches more generally within autism research.

How will this analysis help autistic adults now and in the future?

This analysis and discussion will provide researchers, autistic individuals, and the community with practical examples of how service providers can apply IVAR to design and deliver strength-based technology programs for autistic adolescents.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Mary Ann Liebert, 2023
Keywords
autism spectrum disorder, strength-based approach, computer coding, technology clubs, strength-based framework
National Category
Psychiatry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-59943 (URN)10.1089/aut.2022.0038 (DOI)000917454900001 ()38116053 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85168430225 (Scopus ID);intsam;1740861 (Local ID);intsam;1740861 (Archive number);intsam;1740861 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-03-02 Created: 2023-03-02 Last updated: 2024-01-02Bibliographically approved
Li, L., Møller Christensen, B., Falkmer, M., Zhao, Y. & Huus, K. (2023). Content validity of the instrument 'Picture My Participation' for measuring participation of children with and without autism spectrum disorder in mainland China. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 30(8), 1237-1247
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Content validity of the instrument 'Picture My Participation' for measuring participation of children with and without autism spectrum disorder in mainland China
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2023 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, ISSN 1103-8128, E-ISSN 1651-2014, Vol. 30, no 8, p. 1237-1247Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background

Picture My Participation (PMP) is a valid instrument for measuring participation of children with disabilities, but it has not yet been evaluated for its content validity for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in mainland China.

Aim

To explore the content validity of the simplified Chinese version of PMP (PMP-C; Simplified) for children with ASD and typically developing (TD) children in mainland China.MethodsA sample of children with ASD (n = 63) and TD children (n = 63) recruited through purposive sampling were interviewed using the PMP-C (Simplified), which contains 20 items of everyday activities. Children rated attendance and involvement on all activities and selected three most important activities.

Results

Children with ASD selected 19 of 20 activities as the most important activity while TD children selected 17 activities. Children with ASD used all scale points for rating attendance and involvement on all activities. TD children used all scale points for rating attendance and involvement in 10 and 12 of 20 activities, respectively.

Conclusion

The contents of 20 activities of PMP-C (Simplified) were relevant for all children and especially for children with ASD for assessing participation in community, school and home activities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2023
Keywords
Attendance, involvement, picture-supported interview, self-rating
National Category
Pediatrics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-61579 (URN)10.1080/11038128.2023.2220911 (DOI)001003242300001 ()37293965 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85161636985 (Scopus ID)HOA;intsam;887685 (Local ID)HOA;intsam;887685 (Archive number)HOA;intsam;887685 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-06-26 Created: 2023-06-26 Last updated: 2023-12-12Bibliographically approved
White, J., McGarry, S., Falkmer, M., Scott, M., Williams, P. J. & Black, M. H. (2023). Creating Inclusive Schools for Autistic Students: A Scoping Review on Elements Contributing to Strengths-Based Approaches. Education Sciences, 13(7), Article ID 709.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Creating Inclusive Schools for Autistic Students: A Scoping Review on Elements Contributing to Strengths-Based Approaches
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2023 (English)In: Education Sciences, E-ISSN 2227-7102, Vol. 13, no 7, article id 709Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Strengths-based approaches leveraging the strengths and interests of autistic students are increasingly recognised as important to meeting their school-related needs. A scoping review exploring elements contributing to strengths-based approaches for autistic students in schools was undertaken. Eighteen articles were identified, with results conceptualised according to the Bioecological Model of Development. One personal (strengths and interests), six microsystem (specialised instructions, curriculum integration, curriculum differentiation, common interests with peers, reciprocal roles and adult involvement), three mesosystem (matching resources and activities, real-life learning experiences and benefiting all students), and three exosystem (cost-effective and timesaving, collaboration with colleagues and parents and teachers' attitude and knowledge) elements were identified. Findings highlight the interrelatedness of the elements contributing to strengths-based approaches for autistic students, which can be used to aid in the development of more inclusive school environments.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
MDPI, 2023
Keywords
autism, strength-based, bioecological model of development, inclusive school, scoping review
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-62237 (URN)10.3390/educsci13070709 (DOI)001038172900001 ()2-s2.0-85175115171 (Scopus ID)GOA;intsam;897929 (Local ID)GOA;intsam;897929 (Archive number)GOA;intsam;897929 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-08-22 Created: 2023-08-22 Last updated: 2023-11-06Bibliographically approved
Jones, M., Milbourn, B., Falkmer, M., Tan, T., Bölte, S. & Girdler, S. (2023). Strength-based technology clubs for autistic adolescents: A feasibility study. PLOS ONE, 18(2 February), Article ID e0278104.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Strength-based technology clubs for autistic adolescents: A feasibility study
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2023 (English)In: PLOS ONE, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 18, no 2 February, article id e0278104Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Strength-based technology clubs are thought to help autistic adolescents transition to adulthood by developing positive traits, enhancing technical skills, and creating supportive networks. A newly developed strength-based technology club was delivered to 25 autistic adolescents, with the feasibility tested via qualitative and quantitative methods. Autistic adolescents, their parents, and club facilitators participated in separate focus groups, with audio data transcribed and thematically analyzed. Quantitative data was collected via adolescent and parent-reported pretest-posttest measures following the 15-week program. Autistic adolescents were highly satisfied with the club (acceptability), the technology club satisfied an unmet need (demand), with the program demonstrating the potential to be integrated into the current therapy system in Australia (integration). Feasibility areas that could be improved in delivering future clubs are discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Public Library of Science, 2023
Keywords
Adolescent, Australia, Autistic Disorder, Feasibility Studies, Humans, Organizations, Parents, autism, child parent relation, feasibility study, human, organization
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-59815 (URN)10.1371/journal.pone.0278104 (DOI)000966636100001 ()36735706 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85147457274 (Scopus ID)GOA;;861463 (Local ID)GOA;;861463 (Archive number)GOA;;861463 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-02-14 Created: 2023-02-14 Last updated: 2023-05-08Bibliographically approved
Jones, M., Falkmer, M., Milbourn, B., Tan, T., Bölte, S. & Girdler, S. (2023). The Core Elements of Strength-Based Technology Programs for Youth on the Autism Spectrum: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Evidence. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 10, 441-457
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Core Elements of Strength-Based Technology Programs for Youth on the Autism Spectrum: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Evidence
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2023 (English)In: Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, ISSN 2195-7177, Vol. 10, p. 441-457Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Strength-based programs that incorporate technology have gained increasing popularity as an approach to improve outcomes for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Despite this, the core elements of strength-based technology programs remain poorly described. This study aimed to identify the core elements of strength-based technology programs for youth with ASD through a systematic review of the literature. Electronic databases were searched for qualitative studies delivering strength-based technology-driven interventions to youth on the spectrum. Ten of the 874 studies identified met the criteria. Qualitative analysis revealed three core elements of strength-based technology programs for this population: mutual respect, demonstrating skills, and interests. The findings underpin the design of future strength-based technology programs for youth with ASD.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2023
Keywords
Autism spectrum disorder, Strength-based approach, Meta-ethnography, Qualitative research, Computer coding, Technology programs
National Category
Psychiatry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-55893 (URN)10.1007/s40489-022-00302-0 (DOI)000750294900001 ()2-s2.0-85123959863 (Scopus ID)HOA;;796108 (Local ID)HOA;;796108 (Archive number)HOA;;796108 (OAI)
Available from: 2022-02-14 Created: 2022-02-14 Last updated: 2023-09-07Bibliographically approved
Afsharnejad, B., Black, M. H., Falkmer, M., Bölte, S. & Girdler, S. (2023). The Methodological Quality and Intervention Fidelity of Randomised Controlled Trials Evaluating Social Skills Group Programs in Autistic Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of autism and developmental disorders
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Methodological Quality and Intervention Fidelity of Randomised Controlled Trials Evaluating Social Skills Group Programs in Autistic Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
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2023 (English)In: Journal of autism and developmental disorders, ISSN 0162-3257, E-ISSN 1573-3432Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

A systematic review and meta-analysis were utilised to explore the methodological quality, program fidelity, and efficacy of social skills group programs (SSGPs) aiming to support autistic adolescents in navigating their everyday social worlds. The study evaluated the methodological quality and theoretical fidelity of studies, with a random effect meta-analysis conducted to summarise the overall efficacy of SSGP and its effect on social communication and interaction, behavioural/emotional challenges, adaptive functioning, and autism characteristics. Although findings from the 18 identified studies indicated an adjusted medium overall effect with these programs successfully supporting autistic adolescents’ socialisation needs (g = 0. 60, p < 0.001), most studies demonstrated medium to low program fidelity despite their good methodological quality. Given the significant heterogeneity of SSGPs and variations in the design and measurement frameworks of efficacy studies, understanding the generalisability of the findings of this research is unclear.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2023
Keywords
Adolescents, Autism, Randomised controlled trial, Social skills, Systematic review
National Category
Psychiatry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-59760 (URN)10.1007/s10803-023-05893-z (DOI)000916561100001 ()36681732 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85146570631 (Scopus ID)HOA;intsam;860721 (Local ID)HOA;intsam;860721 (Archive number)HOA;intsam;860721 (OAI)
Available from: 2023-02-08 Created: 2023-02-08 Last updated: 2023-02-16
Afsharnejad, B., Falkmer, M., Picen, T., Black, M. H., Alach, T., Fridell, A., . . . Girdler, S. (2022). “I Met Someone Like Me!”: Autistic Adolescents and Their Parents’ Experience of the KONTAKT® Social Skills Group Training. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 52, 1458-1477
Open this publication in new window or tab >>“I Met Someone Like Me!”: Autistic Adolescents and Their Parents’ Experience of the KONTAKT® Social Skills Group Training
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2022 (English)In: Journal of autism and developmental disorders, ISSN 0162-3257, E-ISSN 1573-3432, Vol. 52, p. 1458-1477Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study captured the experiences of 35 autistic adolescents and their parents after completing a 16-session variant of social skills group training KONTAKT® (ACTRN12617001117303). Semi-structured interviews explored participants' and relatives' perceptions of KONTAKT® and associated social outcomes. Adolescents were classified as either high (HR, n = 23) or low (LR, n = 12) responders based on the primary outcome effects during the previous trial. Thematic analysis revealed that both HR and LR participants their parents were satisfied with KONTAKT®, noting consistent patterns of improvement in adolescents' social understanding, communication, relationships, and empowerment, although positive reports were more frequent among HR than LR groups. This study enhances the understanding of the impact of SSGT, which is key in improving their content, principles, and administration.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2022
Keywords
Adolescents, Autism, Intervention, Lived experience, Social skills, Thematic analysis
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-52525 (URN)10.1007/s10803-021-05045-1 (DOI)000646471400001 ()33942186 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85105462519 (Scopus ID);intsam;1556844 (Local ID);intsam;1556844 (Archive number);intsam;1556844 (OAI)
Available from: 2021-05-24 Created: 2021-05-24 Last updated: 2022-04-08Bibliographically approved
Afsharnejad, B., Falkmer, M., Black, M. H., Alach, T., Lenhard, F., Fridell, A., . . . Girdler, S. (2022). KONTAKT (R) social skills group training for Australian adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized controlled trial. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 31, 1695-1713
Open this publication in new window or tab >>KONTAKT (R) social skills group training for Australian adolescents with autism spectrum disorder: a randomized controlled trial
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2022 (English)In: European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, ISSN 1018-8827, E-ISSN 1435-165X, Vol. 31, p. 1695-1713Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While there is a large body of evidence drawn from randomised controlled trials supporting the efficacy of SSGT in autistic adolescents, the control arms of these studies are almost exclusively treated either as usual or waitlist. Addressing this limitation, 90 verbal autistic adolescents (70% male) aged 12-17 years (M = 13.77, SD = 1.6) with IQ > 70 participated in this pragmatic two-armed randomised controlled trial design study evaluating the efficacy of sixteen 90-min sessions of SSGT KONTAKT (R) (n = 46) in comparison to a manualised interactive group cooking programme (n = 44) of equal dosage controlling for the potentially confounding effects of exposure to a social group context. The primary outcome was the adolescents' progress towards achieving their personally meaningful social goals at follow-up. Secondary outcomes were changes in autistic traits, quality of life, facial emotion recognition skills, social anxiety, and loneliness. Assessments were conducted at baseline, post intervention and 12-week follow-up. The interaction between time point and group allocation was investigated through a random-effects regression model (linear mixed model) to examine changes in the dependent outcomes. While intention-to-treat analysis (N = 90) demonstrated that both SSGT (ES = 1.36, p < .001) and active control (ES = 1.10, p < .001) groups made progress towards their personally meaningful social goals at follow-up, KONTAKT (R) participants demonstrated greater progress in social goal attainment than their peers in the active control group (ES = 0.35, p = .04). Findings suggest that KONTAKT (R) is efficacious in supporting autistic adolescents to achieve their personally meaningful social goals compared to other prosocial group activities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2022
Keywords
Social skills group training, Adolescents, KONTAKT (R), Autism spectrum disorder, Active control group, Randomized controlled trial
National Category
Psychiatry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-53069 (URN)10.1007/s00787-021-01814-6 (DOI)000656082900003 ()34052908 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85107026530 (Scopus ID);intsam;747518 (Local ID);intsam;747518 (Archive number);intsam;747518 (OAI)
Available from: 2021-06-11 Created: 2021-06-11 Last updated: 2022-12-11Bibliographically approved
Scott, M., Falkmer, M., Kuzminski, R., Falkmer, T. & Girdler, S. (2022). Process evaluation of an autism-specific workplace tool for employers. Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 29(8), 686-698
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Process evaluation of an autism-specific workplace tool for employers
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2022 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy, ISSN 1103-8128, E-ISSN 1651-2014, Vol. 29, no 8, p. 686-698Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Limited studies exist exploring employers’ capacity in hiring and supporting employees on the autism spectrum, and even fewer have considered interventions targeting employers’ skills and knowledge in enhancing employment opportunities. In response to this need, the Integrated Employment Success Tool (IESTTM) was developed and its effectiveness established in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Furthermore, a process evaluation was conducted to determine the usability and implementation of the IESTTM.

Aims/objectives: The process evaluation was conducted to determine employers’ perceived usability, implementation, and perceived barriers and facilitators in using the IESTTM.

Material and methods: Employers (N = 29) provided their feedback via an online questionnaire. Of these, 11 participants were interviewed, further exploring their experiences. Data were analysed via descriptive statistics and thematic analysis.

Results: While employers’ frequency and usage of the IESTTM varied across workplaces, it was predominantly used to increase employers’ knowledge of autism and implement workplace strategies. A major barrier was the paper-based format of the intervention, with more than 60% of employers indicating the need for an online version.

Conclusions and significance: The process evaluation was a critical step in understanding why the IESTTM was effective, and how it could be further optimized for prospective employers. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2022
Keywords
Autism spectrum disorder, complex intervention, employment, hiring, work environment
National Category
Occupational Therapy Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-50710 (URN)10.1080/11038128.2020.1820571 (DOI)000571556900001 ()32955966 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85091193921 (Scopus ID);intsam;50710 (Local ID);intsam;50710 (Archive number);intsam;50710 (OAI)
Available from: 2020-09-29 Created: 2020-09-29 Last updated: 2023-05-08Bibliographically approved
Smith, R., Netto, J., Gribble, N. C. & Falkmer, M. (2021). ‘At the End of the Day, It’s Love’: An Exploration of Relationships in Neurodiverse Couples. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 51, 3311-3321
Open this publication in new window or tab >>‘At the End of the Day, It’s Love’: An Exploration of Relationships in Neurodiverse Couples
2021 (English)In: Journal of autism and developmental disorders, ISSN 0162-3257, E-ISSN 1573-3432, Vol. 51, p. 3311-3321Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Most autistic people report challenges in initiating and developing intimate, long-term relationships. We used a phenomenological approach to interview thirteen people who were in a neurodiverse intimate relationship (where one partner had a diagnosis of autism) in order to explore the challenges and facilitators both neurotypical and autistic partners experienced. Analysis revealed that ND relationships progressed along similar pathways as non-ND relationships. Facilitators included the strength-based roles that each partner took on and the genuine support and care for each other. Challenges were reported in communication, difficulties reading and interpreting emotions, and idiosyncratic characteristics of the autistic partner. Strategies that both partners used to cope with these challenges and their perspectives of relationship-support services are also presented.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2021
Keywords
Autism, Intimate relationships, Neurotypical, Partners, Relationships, Support services
National Category
Neurosciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-51112 (URN)10.1007/s10803-020-04790-z (DOI)000591123100002 ()33216278 (PubMedID)2-s2.0-85096379762 (Scopus ID);intsam;1505984 (Local ID);intsam;1505984 (Archive number);intsam;1505984 (OAI)
Available from: 2020-12-02 Created: 2020-12-02 Last updated: 2021-12-13Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-7275-3472

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