Social Participation and Navigation (SPAN)

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Date Posted

Research Study Description

Abstract: Research for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is heavily weighted toward children, despite a high incidence of negative outcomes for young adults and adults with ASD across various occupations, including but not limited to vocation, education, and social activities (Howlin, 2021; Herring, 2022; Howlin & Magiati, 2017; Perryman et al., 2020; Schall et al., 2014). Social Participation and Navigation (SPAN) is a web-based coaching application originally developed as a tool that, alongside a trained therapist, would help adolescents with traumatic brain injury increase their social participation through the creation and completion of self-directed goals (Narad et al., 2018; Wade et al., 2018). SPAN was later adapted for use in Israel for adolescents and young adults with ASD (Lamash et al., 2023). While SPAN is not currently used in the United States for young adults with ASD, there is a need for more evidence-based solutions for young adults with ASD.

Purpose of Study: The purpose of this research study is to adapt and culturally validate the contents of Social Participation and Navigation (SPAN) for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within the U.S.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize the challenges and barriers associated with the social participation of this unique population of YAs with ASD.
  • Recognize the benefit of technology based interventions such as SPAN to create and complete self-directed goals that help promote social participation for YAs with ASD.
  • Analyze the pros and cons of the SPAN program based on our presented data from participants and stakeholders.
  • Acknowledge the need for continued research on the use of evidence based virtual interventions in OT in response to global trends in telehealth expansion.

Background and significance: SPAN is a web-based application that utilizes peer-coaching to assist users in establishing functional goals, as well as support their accomplishment of self-set objectives for participation within the community. The original SPAN was first developed for YAs with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the U.S. and was subsequently adapted for YAs with ASD in Israel. Usability studies indicate positive feedback and results for its use to benefit YAs with ASD (Narad et al., 2018; Wade et al., 2018).

It is essential to culturally validate the tool within the U.S., as cultural differences in healthcare intervention implementation between Israel and the U.S. may be profound, and reliable measures should be sensitive to these differences (Tietschert et al., 2018).

Due to the rapid progression of ASD prevalence within the last 20 years in combination with ever-increasing social barriers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is reason to conclude that the YA population in the U.S. is impacted with ASD now more than ever before (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2022).

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