Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Gentry, T., Lau, S., Molinelli, A., Fallen, A., & Kriner, R. (2012). The Apple iPod Touch as a vocational support aid for adults with autism: Three case studies.. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 37 (2), 75-85.
Title:  The Apple iPod Touch as a vocational support aid for adults with autism: Three case studies.
Authors:  Gentry, T., Lau, S., Molinelli, A., Fallen, A., & Kriner, R.
Year:  2012
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press (Netherlands)
Full text:  http://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-vocational-rehabili...    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Background:  Over the past few years, as Personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smart-phones have developed into multi-functional appliances capable of incorporating advanced task management applications, augmentative communication tools, wayfinding supports, video cameras and video editors, behavioral modeling programs and a rapidly growing library of educational media, opportunities to leverage these devices as assistive technology have outpaced the efforts of researchers to assess their efficacy with any disability population. PDAs offer task management and organizational features that may be utilized to help people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) function more successfully in the workplace. Additionally, onboard video cameras and add- on software applications provide rich opportunities for the implementation of personalized vocational supports for individual workers.
Purpose:  Examining the Apple iPod Touch PDA as a vocational support for people with ASD, with three case studies.
Setting:  The Virginia Commonwealth University project entitled Vocational Rehabilitation Service Models for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders, under the direction of VCU’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center and in collaboration with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services
Study sample:  Three adults with autism who have been successfully trained to utilize Apple iPod Touch PDAs as cognitive-behavioral aids in support of vocational goals.
Intervention:  Presented here are three case studies of adults with autism who have been successfully trained to utilize Apple iPod Touch PDAs as cognitive-behavioral aids in support of vocational goals. The people profiled here are participants in a 4-year randomized trial examining the use of these devices as job coaching aids in the workplace. In each case, a DRS-funded job coach identified an adult with ASD who was scheduled to begin a job coach-supported vocational placement, consents were obtained from the participant, a parent and the job coach, and an OT from the ATC Lab sched- uled an assessment interview and work observation, during which the participant and job coach described vocational challenges that required vocational support on this particular job. The OT then programmed an iPod Touch with an individualized suite of applica- tions intended to provide elements of support that have included: (1) task reminders, (2) task lists, (3) video-based task-sequencing prompts, (4) behavioral self-management adaptations, (5) way-finding tools, and other supports. The OT then trained the participant and job coach in using the device as a vocational aid, and provided follow-along support, as needed, during a six-month trial of device utilization on the job. Participant names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Control or comparison condition:  N/A
Data collection and analysis:  In each case, a DRS-funded job coach identified an adult with ASD who was scheduled to begin a job coach-supported vocational placement, consents were obtained from the participant, a parent and the job coach, and an OT from the ATC Lab scheduled an assessment interview and work observation, during which the participant and job coach described vocational challenges that required vocational support on this particular job. The OT then programmed an iPod Touch with an individualized suite of applications intended to provide elements of support that have included: (1) task reminders, (2) task lists, (3) video-based task-sequencing prompts, (4) behavioral self-management adaptations, (5) way-finding tools, and other supports. The OT then trained the participant and job coach in using the device as a vocational aid, and provided follow-along support, as needed, during a six-month trial of device utilization on the job. Participant names have been changed to protect their privacy.
Findings:  This article reports on three cases of workers with ASD who have been trained to use Apple iPod Touch PDAs as vocational supports in the workplace, resulting in improved functional performance and reduced behavioral challenges. People with cognitive- behavioral challenges may benefit from a judicious assessment, product customization and training process that includes supported utilization and follow-along in the workplace. The partnership of an OT familiar with task analysis, PDAs and applications and an employment specialist onsite can facilitate successful individualized strategies for vocational support using a PDA.
Conclusions:  All three cases of workers with ASD who have been trained to use Apple iPod Touch PDAs as vocational supports in the workplace showed improvement of functional performance and reduced behavioral challenges.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Populations served:  Other
Interventions:  Rehabilitation counseling
Vocational rehabilitation
Outcomes:  Other