Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Smith, M. J., Fleming, M. F., Wright, M. A., Losh, M., Humm, L. B., Olsen, D., & Bell, M. D. (2015). Brief report: Vocational outcomes for young adults with autism spectrum disorders at six months after virtual reality job interview training. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 45 3364–3369.
Title:  Brief report: Vocational outcomes for young adults with autism spectrum disorders at six months after virtual reality job interview training
Authors:  Smith, M. J., Fleming, M. F., Wright, M. A., Losh, M., Humm, L. B., Olsen, D., & Bell, M. D.
Year:  2015
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publisher:  N/A
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Background:  Young adults with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have low employment rates and job interviewing presents a critical barrier to employment for them. Results from a prior randomized controlled efficacy trial suggested virtual reality job interview training (VR-JIT) improved interviewing skills among trainees with ASD, but not controls with ASD.
Purpose:  :In the current study, we evaluated the vocational outcomes of young adults with high functioning ASD who previously completed an efficacy study of VR-JIT. Based on our recent findings, we hypothesized that VR-JIT trainees would have greater odds of accepting an offer for a job or competitive volunteer position. We also evaluated whether neurocognition, social cognition, ASD symptom severity, and VR-JIT process measures recorded during the efficacy trial (i.e., role-play performance, number of completed VR-JIT trials, VR-JIT performance) were correlates of position acceptance among trainees.
Setting:  Over the phone survey and email survey
Study sample:  Twenty-three participants (ages 18–31) with high-functioning ASD who were actively seeking employment (n = 15 VR-JIT trainees and n = 8 controls) completed the follow-up survey (a retention of 88.5 % from the original efficacy study; Smith et al 2014).
Intervention:  Participants were re-contacted 6 months after finishing the efficacy study, via the phone or through email, and instructed to complete a brief follow-up survey. The survey included seven questions that asked participants to reflect on the past 6 months since their completion of the efficacy study. Specifically, they were asked: (1) "How many weeks have you been looking for a job or volunteer work?"; (2) "How many job interviews have you completed?"; (3) "How many jobs have you been offered?"; (4) "Did you accept any of these job offers? If yes, how many?"; (5) ‘‘How many volunteer interviews have you completed?’’; (6) "How many volunteer positions have you been offered?"; and (7) "Did you accept any of these volunteer offers? If yes, how many?"
Control or comparison condition:  The same 6 month follow up survey was administered to both the intervention and control groups
Data collection and analysis:  Analyses of variance (ANOVA) and Chi square analyses were conducted using baseline demographic, vocational, clinical and cognitive data to examine the between-group differences at baseline and 6-month follow-up. Logistic regression was conducted with ‘‘accepting a position’’ (1 = yes, 0 = no) as the dependent variable to evaluate whether or not participants who trained with VR- JIT had greater odds of obtaining a competitive position. Odds ratios (OR) were generated and presented with 95 % confidence intervals (CI), while Nagelkerke R2 was computed to determine the proportion of explained variance. Authors explored the relationships between the dependent variables of ‘accepted a position,’ ‘weeks searching for a position’ and ‘completed an interview,’ and the independent variables of neurocognition, social cognition, and VR- JIT process measures (i.e., role-play improvement, number of completed VR-JIT trials, VR-JIT performance slope) using point-serial (for binary variables) and Pearson correlations.
Findings:  Participant Characteristics: Authors did not observe any between-group difference in baseline characteristics for participants who completed the 6-month follow-up survey (Table 1, all p \ 0.10). VR-JIT trainees who completed 6-month follow-up were characterized by improvements in role-play performance (mean difference = 3.57, SD = 3.54), they completed m = 16.40 (SD = 4.27) VR-JIT trials, and their VR-JIT performance score improved m = 5.31 points (SD = 5.69) for every trial they completed. Although the proportion of participants who accepted a position was larger in the VR-JIT group (53.3 %) than controls (25.0 %), the difference was only a trend (p = 0.09). A logistical regression model examined whether completing VR-JIT training contributed to the odds of accepting a job or competitive volunteer position. The logistic regression indicated that participants who completed VR-JIT had greater odds of accepting a competitive position (OR 7.82, p = 0.048; 95 % CI 1.02, 59.4) than the controls. Exploratory Correlations: Among VR-JIT trainees, the observed improvement be- tween pre-test and post-test job interview role-plays during the efficacy study was associated with completing more interviews for a competitive position (r = 0.55, p = 0.02).
Conclusions:  Vocational training in the community is a critical issue within the ASD community and this study provides initial evidence that VR-JIT may be a helpful intervention for young adults with high-functioning ASD searching for a job or competitive volunteer work.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Interventions:  Other
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition