Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Charlotte Y. Alverson, PhD and Scott H. Yamamoto, PhD (2017). Employment Outcomes of Vocational Rehabilitation Clients With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional individuals, 40 (3), 144-155.
Title:  Employment Outcomes of Vocational Rehabilitation Clients With Autism Spectrum Disorders
Authors:  Charlotte Y. Alverson, PhD and Scott H. Yamamoto, PhD
Year:  2017
Journal/Publication:  Career Development and Transition for Exceptional individuals
Publisher:  Hammill Institute on Disabilities
Full text: 
Peer-reviewed?  No
NIDILRR-funded?  Not reported

Structured abstract:

Background:  Documented employment outcomes for young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is poor for this population. Vocational rehabilitation services were developed to provide these individuals with support in the transition from school to work. The direct relationship between VR services and employment outcomes for this population is the point of this study, filling a gap in research and knowledge about young adults with ASD in VR counseling services.
Purpose:  To understand employment outcomes for young adults with ASD and the role VR services play in the transition from school to work. Using data from the RSA-911 database, researchers examined, over a 10 year period, the demographic and service characteristics of this group, the case outcomes, and the differences between service and employment outcomes.
Study sample:  The data come from the RSA-911 database from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, excluding territories. Years examined are 2003 through 2012. Only clients coded with ASD were included in the study sample. All were children between elementary school age and 25 years of age.
Data collection and analysis:  The researchers used variables that included gender, ethnicity, primary disability, IEP, education attainment, and variables for employment. In addition, only clients with the ASD designation were included. Statistics for each variable were run and data gathered from the SPSS software for Windows.
Findings:  In the study, clients identified as ASD made up less than 1% of total cases in Vocational Rehabilitation counseling. Most clients in the data were male and white (over 80% of cases). Clients identified as black (about 12%), Latino (about 5%), Asian (about 2%, and Native (less than 2%) to round the group sample. Most of the clients were in high school (about 41%). In the analysis, 63% were assessed for VR services, 38% received a service, and about 28% were counseled for job-related services. Further, in this ten-year study, less than 10% of clients received any vocational training, university training, on-the-job training, or maintenance services. Even fewer (around 2%) received augmentative communication training, academic training, rehab technology training, or technical assistant. Finally, 87% of the clients participated in some form of VBR counseling for 3 years or less. The data revealed that while the number of VR clients with ASD increased dramatically over time, obtaining employment did not improve over time (remaining at about 37% of clients). Ultimately, 62% of all clients did not reach employment. Of those who gained employment, in 8 of 10 years, white, males gained employment more often. In addition, those clients with IEPs and those who increased their education level over time were more likely to gain employment. In addition, when selecting for ASD clients who gained competitive employment, 36% earned some form of wage employment. However, other reports indicate that less than 11% of adults with ASD actually are employed in this manner. In the age group 19-23, about 55% had any paid work. Finally, the most frequent reasons clients with ASD did not gain employment were refusing services, unable to locate or contact individuals, or failure to cooperate. The researchers speculate that the challenges faced by ASD clients including communication, social engagement, and executive functioning issues could limit VR counseling successful transition from school to work.
Conclusions:  This data reveals that we can quantify the reasons for lack of employment in ASD clients. The study suggests more avenues for research related to improving services for ASD clients and interventions targeted at this population.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Populations served:  Transition-age youth (14 - 24)
Interventions:  Vocational rehabilitation
Transition services
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition