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Research, Grants & Scholarships

Our Commitment

The ISA is proud to continue its research collaborating with the Illinois Institute of Technologys’ Institute of Psychology. This includes research related to best practices for autism tx/support for young adults on the spectrum.

Direction Therapy is a clinical intervention originally designed for young adults on the spectrum. Direction Therapy treatments are rooted in the latest scientific literature integrating cognitive behavioral therapy, developmental theory, and neuropsychology into an evidenced based treatment approach. The success of the model has widened its scope of use to a broader population of young adults (those with and without autism).

Direction Therapy brings together therapeutic services including psychology, psychiatry, vocational training, academic services, and life management skill training into a comprehensive service plan. Each client’s DT service plan guides services and clinical treatment. This initial plan is developed by our clinical professionals using a combination of current and historical information about the student and family. These typically include academic transcripts and standardized test scores, historical psycho-educational reports, and vocational & psychological assessments.

Outcomes are reviewed by first identifying, and then monitoring, each individual’s specific long and short-term goals across the different domains (i.e., clinical, academic, vocational, life management skills, and psycho-social).
Direction Therapy (DT), once just a theoretical idea, was born to address the varied presentations and co-morbidities that may accompany a diagnosis of Autism.  I use the words “may accompany” as there is wide variety of presentations.  If you are familiar with the saying “If you’ve met one individual with Autism, you’ve met one individual with Autism” you understand the challenge. From a “program/treatment” perspective, this makes utilizing any kind of “standardized treatment” modality basically impossible, that is if you want to appropriately maximize your “clinical outcomes.”  As such, using flexible model/approach is critical from both a statistically and scientifically perspective. This again to address the myriad of variables and comorbidities that may accompany a spectrum diagnosis. For example, let’s look at a relatively common co-morbid issue, Anxiety.  Anxiety occurs in approximately half of the individuals diagnosed on the spectrum. Many parents and clients often under-estimate the negative impact that Anxiety can have.  Many young adults are “stuck” due to anxiety related obstacles, be it social of functional in nature.  So, if Anxiety were present, a unique strategy utilizing targeted supports for anxiety would be implemented as part of the overall Direction Therapy DT treatment plan. Further, understanding and addressing the interaction affects that Anxiety may have on the other areas and addressing them both clinically and systematically is essential.  For example, what affect does the anxiety have on the academic domain as opposed to the social domain? If anxiety were not a significant factor contributing to difficulties the young adult may be experiencing, then these treatments would not be utilized. Instead, more poignant supports would be instituted. This could include specific therapies, pharmacological supports, academic, vocational support, etc… Also important as part of Direction Therapy model, is the regular commination system utilized by the clinicians, other professionals, and family.

The International Society for Autism (ISA), in partnership with doctoral students at the Illinois Institute of Technology, is taking part in a research initiative to evaluate evidence-based components of Multidisciplinary Treatment models. This research initiative funded by ISA examines:

Factors predicting academic achievement, Independent Living Skill acquisition, and clinical symptom reduction, social skill acquisition, for young adults with ASD.

The significance of differences between Multidisciplinary and more traditional therapeutic modalities/interventions.

Factors predicting Online/Video Game use and its subsequent effects on the aforementioned variables.