Last updated September 19, 2017  
An Education and Support Program for Young Adults with ASD and their Families in the Madison and Milwaukee Areas



Principal Investigator

  Leann Smith, PhD  
  Leann Smith, PhD
Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin - Madison



Marsha Mailick Seltzer, Ph.D. Jan S. Greenberg, Ph.D. Janet Lainhart
Marsha R. Mailick, Ph.D.
Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Jan S. Greenberg, Ph.D.
Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Janet E. Lainhart, MD
Waisman Center
University of Wisconsin - Madison


Purpose of the Study

We are excited to announce a new research study focused on young adults (aged 18-30) with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. The purpose of this study is to develop and evaluate an education and support program for families with young adults on the spectrum entitled Working Together. The Working Together program involves 8 weekly education and support group sessions for young adults designed to promote coping strategies, problem solving skills, and advocacy. The program also involves 8 weekly education and support group sessions for parents designed to help parents to support their adult children in achieving educational and employment goals. The sessions for parents and for adults with ASD run concurrently. Session topics include problem solving strategies, coping skills, supporting employment and education goals, and planning for independence.

For this study, we are exploring the program's impact on family stress, well-being, and the adult’s engagement in community activities including employment. Both adults with ASD and parents will provide feedback about the program. We hope that by learning from young adults on the spectrum and their parents, we can inform future services and supports that promote a high quality of life for individuals with ASD during adulthood.


We gratefully acknowledge support from:

  • National Institute of Mental Health (R34 MH104308-01)
  • Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (P30 HD03352)
  • Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (T32 HD007489)
  • National Institute on Aging (R01 AG08768)

We also express our extreme gratitude to the families who have graciously given of their time to contribute to this research.

How do I participate in the study?

We are excited to invite young adults with ASD (aged 18-30) as well as their mothers and/or fathers to participate in this study! We are currently enrolling families who live in the Madison and Milwaukee areas. Additional information about the study, how to sign up, and criteria for participation is available below:

Who may participate in this study?

To participate in the study, the following criteria must be met by the adult with ASD:

  • the adult must provide ASD diagnosis documentation (either from a health care or educational professional)
  • the adult with ASD has not been diagnosed with an intellectual disability
  • the adult must be 18-30 years old
  • the adult must live at home with his or her parent(s)
  • the adult spends less than 20 hours per week working at a job and/or in a degree-seeking post-secondary education program

What will participation involve?

Participants will have the opportunity to participate in research interviews as well as education and support sessions held in Madison or Milwaukee:

  • An initial interview
  • 2 individual family sessions
  • 8 weeks of group sessions
  • 3 follow up group sessions
  • Interviews at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months

Topics of the education and support sessions will include:

  • Planning for Independence
  • Problem Solving
  • Coping Strategies
  • Community and Relationships
  • Health and Well-being
  • Personal Safety

$ Each family member will be paid for participating in the study $

If interested, please contact:

Working Together Study
Molly Johnston 608-890-4953

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