Original Paper

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 1447-1460

First online:

Engagement in Vocational Activities Promotes Behavioral Development for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Julie Lounds TaylorAffiliated withVanderbilt Kennedy CenterDepartment of Pediatrics, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Email author 
  • , Leann E. SmithAffiliated withWaisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • , Marsha R. MailickAffiliated withWaisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison

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This study examined the bidirectional relations over time between behavioral functioning (autism symptoms, maladaptive behaviors, activities of daily living) and vocational/educational activities of adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants were 153 adults with ASD (M age = 30.2 years) who were part of a larger longitudinal study. Data were collected at two time points separated by 5.5 years. Cross-lag models were used, which accounted for stability over time while testing both directions of cross-lagged effects. Results suggested that greater vocational independence and engagement was related to subsequent reductions in autism symptoms and maladaptive behaviors, and improvements in activities of daily living. Relations between earlier behavioral variables (symptoms, behaviors, and activities of daily living) and later vocational independence were not statistically significant.


Autism spectrum disorder Adult Vocation Autism symptoms Behavior problems Activities of daily living