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
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes
Research design:  Case history review

Structured abstract:

Background:  Personal digital assistants (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. However, most of the focus in autism research is on the identification, assessment and treatment of children; few studies examine interventions and outcomes in adulthood. As a result, evidence-based programs of workplace support are limited.
Purpose:  This study presents three case studies of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who have been successfully trained to utilized Apple iPod Touch personal digital assistants (PDAs) as cognitive-behavioral aids in support of vocational goals.
Setting:  The setting included three employment sites in 3 different businesses.
Study sample:  The three people profiled were adults with autism spectrum disorder who were participants in a 4 year randomized trial examining the use of these devices as job coaching aids in the workplace. The participants were: a 21-year-old man working as a daytime custodian in a fast food restaurant, a woman aged 60 years responsible for processing incoming mail at an office, and a 20-year-old female non-reading hospital worker,
Intervention:  Onboard iPod Touch task organization applications were used to set up work schedules with audible task prompts and reminder alarms. The Notes application was used to provide additional task guidance, and the PDAs video camera was used to record short videos guiding the mail clerk around various stations in her work environment. Other apps utilized included Simply Being, providing relaxation and meditation coaching; VoCal, a verbal reminder application; iCal, for creating a color coded alternating-day calendar; StoryKit for creating picture-prompting task lists; and iReward for positive performance feedback, the latter three added for the non-reader hospital worker.
Control or comparison condition:  There was no control or comparison condition.
Data collection and analysis:  Data was maintained for each study participant on average hours worked per week, average job coach direct verbal/gestural supervision hours per week, and average job coach indirect monitoring hours per week. Datw was also maintained on software applications used.
Findings:  Participants wore the portable PDAs, clipped to a belt or with a lanyard around their neck, as vocational supports throughout their workday for a period of six months, resulting in improved functional performance and reduced behavioral challenges
Conclusions:  PDAs should be considered as an assistive technology for use with people with cognitive-behavioral conditions. The partnership of an Occupational therapist familiar with task analysis, PDAs and applications and an employment specialist onsite at the job site can facilitate successful individualized strategies for vocational support using PDAs.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Interventions:  Assistive technology
Job coach
Outcomes:  Increase in hours worked