Development, Implementation, and Preliminary Outcomes from the Connecting Students with Autism to Geographic Information Science & Technology (CSA-GIST) Program – Jamie Pearson

In 2015, the United Nations created a new disability initiative, recognizing that more than 15% of the global population are people with disabilities who face unique challenges in accessing opportunities for safety, security, and economic empowerment (2019). Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in the nation (CDC, 2020a), and autistic adults find it more challenging to find meaningful work than other individuals with disabilities (Roux et al, 2015). The number of autistic children served in North Carolina public schools drives the need for better strategies to support the development and future employment of autistic youth (CDC, 2020b; 2015). We know that many students with autism thrive in stimulating STEM careers when given proper support. As such, the Connecting Students with Autism to Geographic Information Science & Technology (CSA-GIST) study established a research-based workforce development model that: (1) increases student self-regulation, interest, and motivation in Geographic Information Science & Technology (GIST) and (2) expands students’ understanding of GIST/STEM concepts and skill sets in an effort to better prepare autistic high school students for post-secondary STEM education and careers. In this presentation, we will discuss the development and implementation of GIST, and highlight preliminary findings following year one of the project.

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