Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  García-Villamisar, D., Wehman, P., & Navarro, M.D. (2002). Changes in the quality of autistic people's life that work in supported and sheltered employment. A 5-year follow-up study. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 17 (4), 309-312.
Title:  Changes in the quality of autistic people's life that work in supported and sheltered employment. A 5-year follow-up study
Authors:  García-Villamisar, D., Wehman, P., & Navarro, M.D.
Year:  2002
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Publisher:  IOS Press
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Background:  There is growing consensus that quality of life should dominate policies and services for individuals with autism. Supported employment is one service that enables individuals with autism with obtaining and maintaining meaningful community employment. It is important for professionals to understand how individuals with autism enjoy and benefit from various experiences.
Purpose:  The study evaluated the changes in the quality of life of adults with autism who worked in the community via supported employment versus those who were in sheltered work.
Setting:  Individuals in the supported employment group worked in a variety of community jobs that were primarily in the service sector.
Study sample:  Fifty five adults with autism, who live in Spain and Germany, participated in the study. Twenty six individuals in sheltered work (18 males and 8 females) were matched to 25 individuals (21 males and 4 females) in a supported work. The mean age for both groups was around 21 years. The average IQ for members in both groups was about equal at about 53.
Intervention:  The intervention was sheltered work or supported employment. Sheltered work was defined as piece work performed in segregated programs with only disabled co-workers. Supported employment was working in a community job 15 to 30 hours per week for competitive wages. Job coaches provided various types of services to supported workers including on the job site training and on going follow-along.
Control or comparison condition:  A group individuals with autism who participated in sheltered work was compared with supported employment group.
Data collection and analysis:  Data was collected through interviews with individuals with autism and their family, caretakers, and therapists using the Quality of Life Survey. The survey included 18 questions that were grouped in three categories: a) Environmental Control (EC), b) Community Involvement (CI), and Perception of Personal Change (PC). Each person with autism was interviewed in 1996 and again in 2000. If the individual with autism was not able to verbally communicate, the job coach was interviewed.
Findings:  In 1996, at the start of the study, there was no difference between the sheltered and the supported work groups on total Quality of Life scores. In 2000, the sheltered work group showed less quality of life than the supported work group in total score. The sheltered work group did not change its quality of life level between 1996 and 2000. The supported employment group improved its global quality of life.
Conclusions:  There is a positive relationship between supported employment and quality of life. Supported employment seems to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism. Sheltered work does not seem to improve quality of life for individuals with autism.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Populations served:  Gender: Female and Male
Interventions:  Supported employment
Outcomes:  Employment acquisition
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