Developing Abilities and Knowledge for Careers in Design and Engineering for Students on the Autism Spectrum by Scaling Up Making Experiences
2019 to 2022

Maker programming is a promising method for improving the social and functional skills of youth on the autism spectrum because it allows them to engage authentically with peers as they learn to plan, test, revise, and complete projects that reflect their personal interests. EDC, in partnership with New York University’s Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Nest Support Project (NYU Nest) and New York Hall of Science (NYSCI), have been granted a three-year NSF ITEST SPrEaD project with the goal of making engineering design maker programming available and sustainable in a wide range of autism inclusion schools.

Building on the success of the prior IDEAS project (2016-2020), this research team will expand the program to additional Nest middle schools, adapt the curriculum to be used with elementary and high school students, make the program sustainable by facilitating local adaptation in Nest schools, shift the ownership of the program to Nest schools and NYU Nest, and explore more broadly how making can support autism inclusion efforts in general. These activities will build knowledge in the larger special education and informal education communities about how making can enhance autism inclusion efforts, and how informal maker experience can support youth with a wide range of abilities engage in the engineering design process with their peers around their personal interests.