Temple researcher teams up with SEPTA to help people with Autism navigate public transportation

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Image of Elizabeth Pfeiffer via The Temple News.

Elizabeth Pfeiffer, an associate professor in the rehabilitation health and sciences department at Temple University, has helped develop a program that teaches people with autism how to use public transportation, writes Tyra Brown for The Temple News.

Pfeiffer learned that reading street signs, crossing roadways, and street safety were all potentially challenging for people with autism.

To help, she joined forces with SEPTA and the Philadelphia Independence Network to develop a peer-supported transportation program. This connects people with autism to mentors in the program to learn about public transportation safety and commuting. Meanwhile, Temple staff trains mentors with autism on how to effectively teach the curriculum.

“There were not a lot of transportation-providing curriculums that focus on the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) population,” Pfeiffer said.

As part of the program, participants first learn about street safety, street signs, and other fundamentals of travel. After that, they are paired with peer-mentors for 10 to 12 sessions of one-on-one traveling via public transportation.

The participants are tracked by Pfeiffer and the research team through GPS on their SEPTA cards and phones, which helps test the effectiveness of the program.

Read more about the new program in The Temple News here.

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