Date Completed

Spring 2014

Document Type

Masters Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


The time of transition from adolescents to adulthood is a difficult one for many individuals, disability or not. One of the biggest challenges within this large developmental milestone is that of transitioning from secondary education to competitive employment or post-secondary education. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a continuum of disorders that impact an individual’s ability to function in daily life. The impacts of ASD range from mild to severe. This disorder is believed to be persistent and one that commonly causes significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges that can result in lifelong adjustment needs and supports. These autistic symptoms have often been found to affect an individual’s ability to handle transitions as well as finding and maintaining competitive employment. Over the recent years, studies have shown competitive employment rates of individuals with ASD ranging between 6%-10%. Contributing factors to these low employment rates include ineffective and inappropriate transition planning for students with ASD, as well as poor collaboration between education, employment, and community agencies. Therefore, a need has been identified, by both literature and professionals, to begin a collaborative autism-focused transition model to prepare students with mid to high-functioning autism spectrum disorder for competitive employment and post-secondary education. The INVEST program provides micro, mezzo, and macro levels of intervention in order to address identified improvement areas for future transition service development including early intervention, motivation, school and adult service collaboration, multi-system transition planning collaboration, and autism awareness training.


During the development of The INVEST Program Alicia Schmoker was a member of the 2014 Master’s of Social Work (MSW) Advanced Standing Cohort at the University of Washington, Tacoma and social work fellow through the University of Washington Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities Fellowship Program.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alicia Schmoker, Seattle WA. Email:

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