Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 46, Issue 11, pp 3583–3596 | Cite as

Promoting Social Interactions and Job Independence for College Students with Autism or Intellectual Disability: A Pilot Study

  • Carly B. GilsonEmail author
  • Erik W. Carter
Original Paper


The employment outcomes for young adults with autism or intellectual disability (ID) lag far behind those of their peers without disabilities. Most postsecondary education programs for students with disabilities incorporate internship experiences to foster employment skills. However, the proximity of job coaches may inadvertently hinder social opportunities and independence. We used a multiple-probe, single-case experimental design across three college students with autism or ID to examine the effects of a coaching package on task engagement and social interactions. For all participants, interactions increased and task engagement maintained when job coaches reduced proximity and delivered prompts discreetly through bug-in-ear devices. Participants considered the intervention beneficial and unobtrusive. We present implications for supporting employment preparation within postsecondary education programs.


Covert audio coaching Job coach Postsecondary education program Autism Intellectual and developmental disabilities Supported employment 



This study was funded through a Projects of National Significance grant from the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Administration for Community Living, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through Grant 90DN0294. Additional support for this research came from the Office of Special Education Programs, U. S. Department of Education, through Grant H325D100010.

Author Contributions

CBG conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, collected and interpreted data, and drafted the manuscript; EWC conceived of the study, consulted on the design and coordination, and provided revisions of the manuscript writing draft.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Standard

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Special Education, Peabody CollegeVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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