Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Cimera, R.E., & Burgess, S. (2011). Do adults with autism benefit monetarily from working in their communities?. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 34 (3), 173-180.
Title:  Do adults with autism benefit monetarily from working in their communities?
Authors:  Cimera, R.E., & Burgess, S.
Year:  2011
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press (Netherlands)
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Background:  many authors have investigated the cost-efficiency of working in the community from the employees’ perspective. Nearly all of these authors concluded that working in the community produced a net benefit tothe worker; that is, the benefits of working (e.g., wages earned) exceeded the corresponding costs (e.g., reduc- tions in governmental subsidies). However, most of the available studies focus exclusively on indi- viduals with intellectual or psychiatric disabilities. To date, there has been no systematic cost-efficiency analysis of a large sample of workers with autism from their perspective. Conse- quently, it is unclear whether individuals with autism benefit monetarily from working competitively in their communities.
Purpose:  This study explored the employment outcomes and cost-efficiency of 19,436 adults with autism spectrum disorder who had their cases closed by government-operated vocational rehabilitation agencies throughout the United States from 2002 to 2007. RQ are included; 1. Is working in the community cost-efficient from the worker’s perspective?; 2. Are employment outcomes improving for adults with autism?; 3. Do individuals with only autism benefit more from being employed than individuals with autism and secondary conditions?; 4. Do employment outcomes vary across the United States?
Setting:  State vocational rehabilitation agencies
Study sample:  From 2002 to 2007, 3,782,314 individuals who applied for services through state vocational rehabilitation agencies had their cases officially closed. Of these, 19,436 individuals were diagnosed with autism.
Intervention:  N/A
Control or comparison condition:  N/A
Data collection and analysis:  When individuals apply for services through any of these programs, data are entered into a national computerized data collection system (i.e., the “911 database”). These data are then cross- checked for potential errors and discrepancies by two computer programs, RSA ERA and RSA Edit Program.
Findings:  Individuals with autism generated much more monetary benefits from working in the community than monetary costs. For every dollar give up in taxes paid, wages forgone, or subsidies lost, workers with autism received $5.28 in wages earned. individuals working in the community generated more monetary benefits than monetary costs (i.e. average benefit-cost ratio of 5.28 and monthly net benefit of $643.20). Further, this result was found regardless of the state in which services were provided or whether the individual had multiple conditions. Although some individuals lost their governmental subsidies as a result of working, they more than made up for these losses by working in the community. Becoming employed, therefore, was a fiscally advantageous decision for the worker regardless of where they lived in the United States or the number of disabilities that they had. However, there are several concern. Rates of employment (M = 40. 6%), hours worked per week (M = 23.7), and wages earned per month (M = $793.34) were low throughout the United States.
Conclusions:  This research supports the notion that adults with autism should work in the community, if they so desire. The monetary benefits that they receive from working far outweigh any of the monetary costs.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Interventions:  Vocational rehabilitation
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition
Full-time employment
Part-time employment
Increase in hours worked