Importance: Young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience poor employment outcomes. Teaching soft skills and using peer-based interventions improve outcomes for people with ASD.
Objective: To evaluate the preliminary efficacy of a soft skills intervention and the feasibility of delivery to a group of young adults with ASD by near-peer occupational therapy master’s-level students.
Design: Pretest–posttest single-group design.
Setting: College campus.
Participants: Convenience sample of 14 young adults (M age = 21.57 yr) with ASD.
Intervention: The Assistive Soft Skills and Employment Training (ASSET) program is a 12-session, manualized, soft skills group intervention previously validated with the ASD population. Topics include communication, attitude and enthusiasm, teamwork, networking, professionalism, and stress management.
Outcomes and Measures: Social functioning, self-efficacy, and adaptive behavior were measured preintervention and immediately postintervention using standardized self-report rating scales. Participant satisfaction and experience were assessed using program-specific measures.
Results: Participants made statistically significant improvements, with medium to large effect sizes in social functioning, self-efficacy, and adaptive behavior. They reported high levels of satisfaction and a positive experience with the program content and delivery.
Conclusions and Relevance: This study provides evidence of participant satisfaction and perceived soft skills improvement and confidence, in addition to the preliminary efficacy of master’s-level students as near-peer facilitators of the ASSET program with an ASD population.
What This Article Adds: The results suggest that trained and supervised master’s-level students can effectively deliver a manualized intervention as near-peer facilitators, elicit positive feedback and high levels of participant satisfaction, and replicate and extend previously reported participant gains.