Supported Employment for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Preliminary Data

by Wehman, Paul; Lau, Stephanie; Molinelli, Alissa; Brooke, Valerie; Thompson, Katie; Moore, Chandler; West, Michael

Wehman, P., Lau, S., Molinelli, A., Brooke, V., Thompson, K., Moore, C. & West, M. (2012). Supported Employment for Young Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder: Preliminary Data. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 37(3), 1-10.

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of supported employment in securing and maintaining competitive employment for people with autism spectrum disorder, a group that has typically been found to be underemployed or unemployed. This prospective study followed and collected data on 33 individuals with autism spectrum disorder as they progressed through a supported employment model, working one-on-one with an employment specialist. Of the 33 individuals included in the study, 27 successfully obtained competitive employment, with a total of 29 positions secured. The successful results were achieved through the use of a supported employment model and skilled employment specialists who were able to provide a high level of social supports and compensatory training strategies for skill acquisition. Specifically, employment specialists supported individuals through four steps of an individualized supported employment model: (a) the development of a jobseeker profile and assessment, (b) guiding the job development and career search, (c) conducting job site training, and (d) designing long-term supports to promote job retention. The multitude and variance of specific methods and strategies used in each case to execute these key steps of the supported employment model accurately reflect an emphasis on a highly individualized approach. Although the outcomes of this preliminary study were positive in terms of employment outcomes, further research remains to be conducted.