Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 1806–1823 | Cite as

Social Tools And Rules for Teens (The START Program): Program Description and Preliminary Outcomes of an Experiential Socialization Intervention for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Ty W. Vernon
  • Amber R. Miller
  • Jordan A. Ko
  • Victoria L. Wu
Original Paper


Experiential learning is an essential process in the development of core social competencies. Unfortunately, adolescents with autism spectrum disorders often do not possess the prerequisite skillset and motivation to sustain the level of social immersion needed to benefit from this learning process. These persisting social vulnerabilities can limit their long-term relational success and associated quality of life, creating a need for comprehensive social programming. This paper describes a multi-component socialization intervention that simultaneously targets motivational, conceptual, and skill deficits using a hybrid experiential/didactic treatment approach. Evidence of social competence improvements was noted in survey and live conversational measures, indicating that the START program may hold promise as a method for improving the social success of participating adolescents with ASD.


Adolescents Autism spectrum disorders Experiential learning Social skills training Social competence 



The authors would like to acknowledge all of the adolescents and parents that participated in this research, along with all of the undergraduate research assistants that made this project possible.

Author Contributions

TV and AM jointly developed the START intervention model and conducted the preliminary evaluation trial. JK assisted with intervention model development. VW served as the lead research assistant on this project and assisted with data input, organization, and analysis. All authors contributed to significant portions of the manuscript drafting and revision process.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ty W. Vernon
    • 1
  • Amber R. Miller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jordan A. Ko
    • 1
  • Victoria L. Wu
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Counseling, Clinical & School Psychology, Koegel Autism CenterUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  2. 2.Children’s Hospital Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.University of California San Diego Medical SchoolSan DiegoUSA

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