Does working with Molly help People with Autism Spectrum Disorders?


In 2017, Dr. Smith received a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (R34 MH111531) to modify the Molly Training for transition age youth with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum. To do so, Dr. Smith will work directly with youth with autism spectrum disorders, their parents, teachers, community employers, and employed adults with autism spectrum disorders to review the Molly Training to identify ways that Molly can be updated to meet the needs of youth with autism. In addition, Dr. Smith is using internal funds and is currently seeking funds so that the new version of Molly is also updated to reflect the needs of transition-age youth with other disabilities and youth involved in juvenile justice.

Molly was designed to meet the needs of adults with chronic severe mental illness. As you can imagine, the needs of transition-age youth (typically 14-26 years old) are going to be quite different than adults. Thus, Dr. Smith and his team have partnered with dozens of youth and adults with autism spectrum disorders; parents, teachers, and community employers to review Molly and figure out how she can be tailored to meet the needs of transition-age youth.

View the Virtual Reality Job Interview Training mock interview scoring manual here: R34 Autism Mock Interview Scoring Manual


Our partners for this part of the study include:

Now we are looking for additional school partners to recruit 70 students with an autism spectrum disorder so that we can work with the schools to deliver the ‘new’ Molly to their students during a 5-6 week window during then 2018-2019 academic year. If you would like your school to partner with Dr. Smith and his team, please click here to share your information with us.

So far, Dr. Smith and his team are partnering with the below schools. Once the project is able to recruit 70 students then recruitment for this particular project will be complete.

Thank you for your interest!

New Connections Academy

New Connections Academy is an answer to the growing need for services for children identified with Autism Spectrum Disorders. These students may be identified with autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Delay, Emotional Disturbance or other special education classifications. A sister school to Connection’s Day School and South Campus, New Connections Academy serves boys and girls ages 6 to 21 placed by local school districts. New Connections Academy provides school, family and community partnerships leading to successful learning.

South Campus

South Campus is a reclaiming therapeutic environment for boys and girls ages 6 to 21 placed by local school districts. The children may be emotionally disturbed, behavior disordered, learning disabled, speech and language impaired, mentally impaired, other health impaired, autistic or may have traumatic brain injury. South Campus provides school, family and community partnerships leading to successful learning.

The mission of New Connections Academy and South Campus is to integrate school, family and community in order to provide the highest quality academic and therapeutic programs. These programs are designed to enable students to become successful learners through a sense of belonging, generosity, mastery and independence.

Have Dreams

Have Dreams is a Chicago-area nonprofit serving children, teens and adults impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). We offer after-school, workplace training and adult day programs, along with diagnostic and family support services. Serving ages 16 months to adulthood, we offer a broad range of programs to serve the full range of the autism spectrum. Come learn about what we do and how to support our cause. Have Dreams’ mission is to help individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) learn, function independently and socialize so that they may realize their full potential and develop into contributing members of their communities.

Ann Arbor Academy

Ann Arbor Academy is a private, co-educational day school for students with learning differences in grades four through twelve. We are dedicated to helping students, particularly those with AD/HD, autism spectrum disorder, and language based learning disabilities build a foundation for academic and social success. Our college preparatory curriculum and supportive social setting help to prepare students for the demands of higher education and the workplace. Ann Arbor Academy’s strengths based approach provides an ideal environment for students to build academic skills, self confidence, and the foundation for life long learning.

Back to Virtual Reality Job Interview Training Projects.