Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Cimera, R.E., Wehman, P., West, M. & Burgess, S. (2012). Do sheltered workshops enhance employment outcomes for adults with autism spectrum disorder?. Autism, 16 (1), 87-94.
Title:  Do sheltered workshops enhance employment outcomes for adults with autism spectrum disorder?
Authors:  Cimera, R.E., Wehman, P., West, M. & Burgess, S.
Year:  2012
Journal/Publication:  Autism
Publisher:  Sage Publications
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported

Structured abstract:

Background:  There are approximately 7,000 sheltered workshops in the united states serving more than 500,000 individuals with disabilities. This research examining the effectiveness of sheltered workshops in preparing individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for competitive community employment.
Purpose:  This study investigated four research questions addressing rates of employment, hours worked, earnings and cost of service comparing individuals from sheltered workshops and those not from sheltered workshops. Differences in employment rates (research question one) were analyzed using a Pearson chi-square test. All other research questions were analyzed using a two-tailed t-test for paired samples.
Study sample:  Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) data from individuals with ASD who's cases had been closed by vocational rehabilitation counselors from 2002 through 2006. (N=430). 215 individuals were employed in sheltered workshops and 215 individuals were not employed in sheltered workshops.
Data collection and analysis:  The variables of employment rates, wages earned, hours worked and cost of services were analyzed with former employees of sheltered workshops with ASD and those in the sample with ASD who were not former employees of sheltered workshops. Employment rate differences were analyzed using a chi-square test and the other three variables for the paired samples of former sheltered workshop employees and those who weren't using a two-tailed t-test.
Findings:  The findings indicated that, with regards to question one: whether rates of employment were higher for sheltered workshop employees, that while former sheltered workshop employees with ASD had slightly lower employment rates, this was not statistically significant. The findings for question two indicated that former sheltered workshop employees with ASD were also statistically insignificant. Question three addressed earnings and findings were that former employees of sheltered workshops earned 32.4% less than those not in sheltered workshops. Finally, in terms of question four, for those not employed by sheltered workshops, the cost of services were 58.9% less, when controlling for employment between the groups.
Conclusions:  Finding indicated that individuals with ASD who transitioned to employment experienced comparable rates of employment and hours per week worked as individuals who did not work in sheltered workshops. Further, individuals who worked in sheltered workshops earned significantly less per week than those who did not and generated 60% of the costs for services. In sum, the data in this study did not support an argument for the value of sheltered workshops.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition
Increase in hours worked