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Wednesday 22 Nov 2017

Employment and Post-Secondary Activities for Young Adults with Autism


A study published this year in the Journal for Autism and Developmental Disabilities examined the different types of employment and post-secondary activities in which young adults with autism were involved. Their results were similar to other studies which examined this topic. They found that of the 66 study participants, 9 (13.6%) were in college/university, 4 (6.1%) were in competitive employment, 8 (12.1%) were in supported employment, 37 (56.1%) participated in adult day services and 8 (12.1%) participated in no regular activities.

College/University – The individuals in this group were enrolled in technical programs, traditional 4-year programs and culinary training. The majority of the study participants in this group (89%) were not diagnosed with a co-morbid intellectual disability
(ID).

Competitive Employment – The individuals in this group were employed 10-30 hours per week with employers such as a restaurant (bussing tables), a hotel (replacing dirty glasses), Salvation Army, and self-employment. Half of the participants in this group were diagnosed with a co-morbid ID.

Supported Employment – Participants in this group worked in community settings with supports. Placements included folding towels, shredding documents, and washing dishes. 75% of these participants were diagnosed with a co-morbid ID.

Adult Day Services – Individuals in this group participated in group work activities in the community and spent the rest of their time in the activity center. The majority of participants (97%) in this group were diagnosed with a co-morbid ID.

No Regular Activities – Individuals in this group participated in activities outside of the house lest than 10 hours per week. Half of the participants in this group were not diagnosed with a co-morbid ID.

The interesting thing about this article is that the majority of individuals with co-morbid diagnoses of ID were in Adult Day Services (73.5%) or Supported Employment (12.1%) and the majority of those without co-morbid ID were in College/University (47.1%) or No Regular Activities (23.5%). The trend in the data seem to suggest that more services (i.e supported employment services) are available to those individuals who are more severely impacted than those individuals who are less severely impacted. Another concerning trend this data suggest is that individuals with autism (with and without ID combined) are most likely to participate in Adult Day Services (56.1%) and least likely to participate in competitive employment (6.1%) and supported employment (12.1%). This is a problem in the current system which needs to be addressed. There seems to be a large population of individuals with autism who are going under-served in addition to a large population of individuals who are not being given the supports necessary to help them succeed in the employment market. These are both issues which are hopefully being addressed by stakeholders across the nation and in other countries!

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