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Postdoc fellow's program for autistic Latinos gains recognition

Antonio Pagán, PhD, delivers his presentation at the T1-T4 in 3 (Minutes) competition.
Antonio Pagán, PhD, delivers his presentation at the T1-T4 in 3 (Minutes) competition.

Antonio Pagán, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at UTHealth Houston’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, was awarded second place in the T1-T4 in 3 (Minutes) competition held May 1, for his research on autism among Latinos. The project, “¡Iniciando! La Adultez (Launching! To Adulthood): A Cultural and Linguistic Adaptation of a Group Therapy Program for Young Adults with Neurodevelopmental Differences Transitioning to Adulthood,” focuses on the challenge of transitioning to adulthood for Spanish-speaking Latino youth with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The T1-T4 in 3 (Minutes) competition, hosted by the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences at UTHealth Houston, requires participants to present their in-depth research to a lay audience in less than three minutes. An exercise in effective communication, the challenge lies in explaining scientific concepts and data to a nonscientific audience. The research findings must be applicable to a community (i.e., “translational”) to make them more relevant and compelling to a broader population.    

According to Pagán, resources for autistic children in the Latino community are limited, and there is a dire lack of culturally and linguistically adapted treatments to aid in their transition to adulthood. The Launching! to Adulthood program provides support for 18- to 25-year-olds with ASD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and their parents through a 12-week therapy program that incorporates evidence-based therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and motivational interviewing). After an initial group session, the families continue meeting weekly with separate group therapy sessions for the young adults and the parents. In addition, the young adults attend individual coaching sessions for 10 weeks. Quality of life, mental health, and other brief measures of functioning in the parents and their children are evaluated on a biweekly basis. The program also partners with various community providers to offer free, optional, virtual weekend webinars for families on a number of topics, including supported decision-making.

The Launching! to Adulthood program is gaining momentum and has garnered local media coverage, as seen in this interview with Pagán by KPRC-TV, which aired April 23, 2024:

For more information on the Launching! To Adulthood program, visit:

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