Study: Visual Training Helps Young Adults With Autism Land Employment
A recent analysis published in the journal Autism found that online, self-guided training may be able to help job-seeking adults with autism land employment. At Therapy & Wellness Connection, we’ve offered vocational services to young adults in Cleveland with autism and other conditions.
We have seen firsthand how a little preparation can go a long way when it comes to job interviews. We also know that many people with autism are visual learners; that’s why strategies like visual schedules are so highly effective when working with kids on the spectrum.
In this new study, researchers from the University of Michigan followed dozens of participants ages 16 yo 26 on the spectrum. About one-third received the standard, school-based, pre-employment vocational services. The rest were given those plus access to a virtual training program specifically designed for kids their age. The program requires those involved to fill out an online application and go through several practice interviews with computerized hiring managers. At the end, they receive feedback from a coach on-screen. This is very similar to the vocational services our occupational therapists provide to our teen and young adult clients – not just with autism, but other conditions.
The results of the study found that the group that received the additional vocational services not only had better job interview skills, but reduced anxiety about the process. They were also more likely to secure a job. Among those who received job interview assistance, 42 percent landed a position within six months. In the group that did not receive services, only 30 percent had received jobs.
Providing vocational services are a critical part of what we do at Therapy & Wellness Connection for adults on the spectrum because independence – to whatever degree it’s possible – is a life goal.
As reported by MarketWatch, there will be more than 500,000 people on the autism spectrum aging into adulthood over the next decade. Of those who go to college, 85 percent are unemployed. That’s compared to 4.5 percent nationally. So often, the difficulty is simply in getting one’s foot in the door. The job interview process can be stressful and confusing for someone on the spectrum.
Our therapists and job coaches provide not only practice with job interviews, but also networking opportunities and consultations with employers, encouraging them to hire and retain employees with autism. We help clients create resumes, fill out employment applications and plan for navigating social interactions with supervisors, co-workers and customers. We also partner with higher education institutes and employers in the region, providing intensive support at first and gradually stepping back so the individual achieves greater independence.
What many employers may not realize is that some of the character traits common among people with autism lend themselves to success at work. These include things like being laser-focused, innovation/thinking outside the box, having an excellent rote memory, having the ability to thrive with routine and strict rules, paying close attention to detail and being bluntly honest. We work to educate employers about these assets, and provide support to help both the employee and employer cope effectively with the challenges.
Studies like this simply reinforce why these services are essential.
Therapy & Wellness Connection – your connection to a life without limitations – is a pediatric therapy clinic providing speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and ABA therapy to children with special needs in Northeast Ohio. We also offer summer camp, day programs, education services, vocational coaching and more. Call us at (330) 748-4807 or send us an email. Serving Brecksville, Akron, Cleveland and surrounding communities in Northeast Ohio.
Virtual Training May Boost Hiring of Autistic Young Adults, May 23, 2021, ASHA
More Blog Entries:
Study: Access to Ohio Autism Vocational Services Key to Success, April 28, 2019, Cleveland Autism Vocational Services Blog