With up to 1 in 59 children on the autism spectrum, supporting the learning of students with autism  and the relevant workforce preparation is critical. Yet schools and out-of-school time programs across the United States lack effective approaches for engaging students on the autism spectrum and preparing them for college and careers.

To address this need, EDC and its partners developed and tested the IDEAS Maker Program curriculum for middle school students who are on the autism spectrum. Based on the success of the curriculum, the team is expanding the program to make the engineering-design maker programming available and sustainable in a wide range of autism inclusion schools.

Key Activities

EDC and its partners are doing the following:

  • Revising the IDEAS Maker Program curriculum for elementary and high school students
  • Training educators to use the curriculum
  • Documenting how different schools adapt the program
  • Measuring the impact of the expanded version of the program on students’ STEM career interest and self-efficacy
  • Working with young adult autism self-advocates to add workforce development activities and extensions to the curriculum
  • Working with the New York City (NYC) Department of Education and professional development providers at New York University (NYU) to tailor the curriculum and implementation strategies to meet their needs


By the end of the project, the program will be:

  • Fully integrated into 12 inclusion elementary, middle, and high schools in NYC
  • Available to 54 autism inclusion elementary, middle, and high schools in NYC
  • Provided as a standard offering by NYU’s ASD Nest Support project, NYC’s autism inclusion professional development provider
  • Made available to educators across the United States

Learn More

National Science Foundation

ASD Nest Support Project at NYU Steinhardt; New York Hall of Science; SRI International