Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Gentry, T., Kriner, R., Sima, A., McDonough, J., and Wehman, P. (2014). Reducing the need for personal supports among workers with autism using an iPod Touch as an assistive technology: Delayed randomized control trial. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, doi.
Title:  Reducing the need for personal supports among workers with autism using an iPod Touch as an assistive technology: Delayed randomized control trial
Authors:  Gentry, T., Kriner, R., Sima, A., McDonough, J., and Wehman, P.
Year:  2014
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publisher:  Springer Science+Business Media LLC 2009
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes

Structured abstract:

Background:  Competitive employment rates for individuals with autism are poor, with rates ranging from 4 to 12 percent. Even those who attend college experience low rates and those who become employed are often underemployed. Challenges stemming from cognition, behavior, communication, and sensory-processing contribute to these difficulties. PDA's, smartphones and tablet computers have may capabilities that may provide strategies to assist individuals with ASD with gaining and maintaining work. These include: time management, task management,task training using video modeling,way finding and person locating, social interactions and behavior management, and other work related supports.
Purpose:  The purpose of this study was to find out if the use of the Apple iPod Touch would reduce the need for personal supports in job performance and increase confidence among workers with ASD who had just become employed and had job coach support services.
Setting:  The setting included an array of businesses where the participants worked.
Study sample:  Fifty five individuals enrolled in the study and 49 completed it. The majority were males (84%) with an average age of 24 years. Most or 68% had a regular high school diploma. The majority or 92% were able to read and 68% had conversant verbal skills. Participants worked in a variety of jobs in the community earning between 7 to 11 dollars per hour. Hours at work ranged from 8 to 35.
Intervention:  The intervention included the following components. A workplace assistive technology assessment by an occupational therapist along with the participant, job coach and employer. Identification of an individualized group of iPod Touch based applications and strategies. Training from the occupational therapist about how to use the applications and follow along and fading of this support as the participant learned to use the device at work.
Control or comparison condition:  Participants were randomised into two groups. A "Now" group and a "Delayed" group. The "Now" group received the intervention within one week of starting work. The "Delayed" group received the intervention 12 weeks after starting work. Functional performance between the two groups was not significantly different.
Data collection and analysis:  The Craig Handicap Assessment and Rating Technique provided baseline information about participants' functional independence at home and in the community. A Supports Intensity Scale (employment subscale) and the Employee Performance Evaluation Report were completed for each participant at scheduled intervals. The number of hours worked and job coach support hours were calculated. Data related to the intervention was also collected. Means and standard deviations or frequency and percentages were used to summarize demographic data. Sample t tests and Pearson Chi square test were performed between the two groups. A generalized linear mixed-effect model and other statistical analyses were performed using SAS v9.3 statistical software.
Findings:  Training in the use of a PDA significantly reduces the need for job coaching by workers with ASD, without reducing performance of the job. Job coaching support hours were reduced for both groups, however starting sooner was more effective.
Conclusions:  Early introduction of PDA training is better than delayed introduction. More research is needed.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Interventions:  Assistive technology
Job coach
On-the-job training and support
Training and technical assistance
Outcomes:  Other