Competitive Employment for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Early Results from a Randomized Clinical Trial

Abstract

For most youth with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), employment upon graduation from high school or college is elusive. Employment rates are reported in many studies to be very low despite many years of intensive special education services. This paper presented the preliminary results of a randomized clinical trial of Project SEARCH plus ASD Supports on the employment outcomes for youth with ASD between the ages of 18–21 years of age. This model provides very promising results in that the employment outcomes for youth in the treatment group were much higher in non-traditional jobs with higher than minimum wage incomes than for youth in the control condition. Specifically, 21 out of 24 (87.5 %) treatment group participants acquired employment while 1 of 16 (6.25 %) of control group participants acquired employment.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The Support Intensity Scale defines “inappropriate behavior” as “non-aggressive but inappropriate behavior, e.g., exposes self in public, exhibitionism, inappropriate touching or gesturing” (Thompson et al. 2004a, p. 7).

  2. 2.

    As noted, this study is ongoing. This research team will report on 1-year post intervention employment retention in a subsequent paper.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is funded by the Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project (DRRP) grant #H133B080027 from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR).

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Correspondence to Carol M. Schall.

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Wehman, P.H., Schall, C.M., McDonough, J. et al. Competitive Employment for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Early Results from a Randomized Clinical Trial. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 487–500 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-013-1892-x

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • ASD
  • Transition to employment
  • Applied behavior analysis
  • Positive behavior support
  • Project SEARCH