Focus on Autism

Through funding from the Virginia Department of Education, Center on Transition Innovations (CTI) has focused on the transition of students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) into education, employment, and community settings. We have developed information and resources including webcasts, videos, and publications.

Spectrum of Possibility (2017)

This four part video series highlights experiences and advice from college students with ASD as well as parents, high school counselors, and college professors who provided important supports during the transition from high school to college. Fast facts related to videos are listed below.

Fast Facts

Health and Safety (2016)

This webcast series focuses on the health and safety needs of young adults with ASD as they move through the transition process to community participation and independence.

Promoting Internet Safety Among Users with ASD
Webcast | Fast Fact

Decreasing Vulnerability through Sexuality Education for Individuals with ASD
Webcast | Fast Fact

Prompting Personal Health and Independence and Community Participation and Safety for Individuals with ASD
Webcast | Fast Fact

Moving Towards Independence for Individuals with ASD
Webcast | Fast Fact

Assessing Social Abilities of Individuals with ASD

Teaching Individuals with ASD Skills for Building Relationships and Friendships

Transition Needs of Young Adults with ASD (2015)

This webcast series focuses on the transition needs of young adults with ASD. Webcasts offer tips and strategies by and for students, parents, and educators.

  1. Transition to Postsecondary Education for Students with ASD: What Families and Students Need to Know

  2. What Works: Person Centered Planning for the Transition Process to Postsecondary Education

  3. Transition to Independent Living Settings for Youth with ASD

  4. Raising Expectations: Ohio Employment First Transition Framework

  5. Transition for Youth with ASD: Tips for Educators

  6. Transition for Youth with ASD: Tips for Parents

  7. A Journey Through Accessing Accommodations in a Community College Setting: My Story and What you Need to Know

Statewide Focus Groups Representing Families of Ethnic or Cultural Minorities (2014)

During the spring of 2014, the Center on Transition Innovations developed a series of focus groups with family members of young adults with ASD representing ethnic or cultural minorities to discuss their experiences with the transition planning process in their local school divisions. Four focus groups were held in specific areas of the state. Data from the census bureau were used to identify geographic areas with relatively large numbers of ethnically and racially diverse residents. The four identified areas were Norfolk, Loudoun, Prince William, and Chesterfield. Two focus groups were held with individuals representing Black/African American communities. Another focus group represented the Latino community, and the final focus group represented the Asian community. Over 30 family members of transition age youth with ASD were recruited through the local school divisions.


The results of the focus groups were analyzed and the following themes emerged. These themes are based on the four focus groups and cannot be generalized across the state. However, this summary can provide foundational information for further study of the needs of students with ASD and their families representing ethnic and cultural minorities.

  1. Students with autism spectrum disorders who are also part of a minority ethnic group experience two cultures: ASD and ethnicity. Families at times feel caught between their cultural norms and their desire for their son or daughter to successfully live in American society.

  2. Family members expressed a strong desire that their young adult with ASD secure employment after completing secondary education. They are concerned that their young adult lacks the life skills necessary to succeed. Yet, families also indicated that the transition planning for independent living and community participation needs to be paired with the cultural norms of the student and family. Some cultures do not stress independence; families and cultures assume the responsibility for their children.

  3. Communication between the schools and families was a frequent theme across all of the groups. Family members conveyed a desire to see more cohesive, cooperative communication. Families expressed the need for schools to understand the unique make-up of their families, and that family dynamics play a large role in the planning of their young adult’s future.

  4. Family members articulated a need to learn more about community resources and agency guidelines for federal and state benefits or resources. They indicate that different methods need to be employed to outreach to family members to engage them in a partnership with the schools.