Special Education M.A.

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Strand, Charles

Second Reader

Karin Farrington;


A fundamental objective of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is to safeguard that all students with disabilities have available to them a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) that affirms special education and related services designed to meet their individual needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. This thesis addresses evidence-based efforts to prepare students on the autism spectrum for life and work. It provides an overview of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which includes; a definition, common challenges that students on the autism spectrum experience as they grow, and evidence-based strategies to address those challenges. If left unaddressed, students with ASD are often unprepared for independent living and vocational endeavors at the very time that their access to needed services and support comes to an end. This transitional ending to special education services is referred to or dubbed the “services cliff''. Suppose we are to equip students on the autism spectrum to transition to adult life effectively. In that case, skills and experiences essential for the transition to adulthood should inspire the development of Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goals and objectives, not merely serve as an afterthought. While high schools and age 18-21 Transitions programs endeavor to support students with autism in preparing for independent living and employment, research shows that efforts must be made earlier and more consistently. This thesis concludes with a practical application website outline for parents whose children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis