Small Business: dfusion Inc., 100 Enterprise Way, D305, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
Principal Investigator: Regina Firpo Triplett, Chief Executive Officer
Agency: National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, CFDA number 93.433, HHS-2021-ACL-NIDILRR-BISB-0026, SBIR Phase II
Title: SkillTalk: Using Streaming Video for Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Build Microskills to Develop and Sustain Relationships for Healthy and Independent Living
The primary goals of this Phase II 24-month project are to complete the development SkillTalk, a video-delivered Microskills training to improve relationship skills among transition age adults, 18-28, with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and conduct an evaluation of the resource. This life stage represents a potentially crucial turning point in the maintenance and development of social relationships. If not successful in forging these healthy relationships, whether friendship, workplace, or romantic, research has shown increased loneliness among those with ASD, resulting in increased depression and anxiety and decreased life satisfaction and self-esteem. The overarching goal of the project is to increase relationship skills, increasing the likelihood of community involvement, workplace interactions, successful friendships and romantic relationships among young adults with ASD, ultimately improving their overall mental health and satisfaction with their life. Conducted in partnership with experts in ASD relationships/sexuality and youth experts who have ASD, project objectives include: 1) Formation of ASD expert and young adult advisory panels; 2) Finalization of relationship skillsets, and development of content for 19 relationship skillsets and approximately 150 corresponding Microskills training videos 30-120 seconds in length; 3) Development of content/scripts for approximately ten “Meet in the Middle” videos for neurotypical friends/family; 4) Video production; and 5) Conducting a nationwide randomized controlled (RCT) trial to establish effectiveness. The anticipated outcomes include 1) completion of the SkillTalk training resource which is usable and well-liked by the target audience; 2) demonstrated effectiveness of the resource in increasing relationship skills among young adults with ASD; and ultimately young adults with ASD who have better relationships resulting in better relationship and mental health outcomes.
Summary of anticipated results: Based on prior work and Phase I results we expect the product to produce significant changes in the relationship skills of transition age adults with ASD. This will in turn improve relationships leading to improved mental health. These results will lead to a robust product and subsequent commercialization. The final product will consist of the completed SkillTalk training platform, online and mobile. This resource will be commercialized through sales to institutions and organizations who provide support to young adults with ASD, sales to parents and therapists/psychologists, sales to colleges, and in some cases sales to the young people themselves. In addition, large companies, such as tech companies that employ larger than average numbers of workers with ASD have expressed interest in such a resource to help workers navigate social relationships in the workplace.