Programs, Models, and Strategies to Support Employment Outcomes of Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Programs, Models, and Strategies to Support Employment Outcomes of Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum

A Review of the Literature
Published: Mar 18, 2022
Publisher: Mathematica
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Associated Project

Research Support Services for Employment of Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum

Time frame: 2021—2024

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy

Authors

Sarah Wissel

Matt Rice

Key Findings
  • A wide range of programs has been delivered to support the employment outcomes of young adults with developmental disabilities and described in publications since 2011. More than half these programs exclusively serve young adults on the autism spectrum.
  • Many of the programs include components such as soft skills training, Job search assistance, job development, or job training, coaching or mentoring, and work experiences.
  • Very few programs include mental health supports, and even fewer include services to improve employers’ ability to hire and support young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • Many of these programs are resource-intensive or underdeveloped, which makes it challenging to replicate them more broadly or scale them.

The transition from school to employment is challenging for the growing number of young adults on the autism spectrum. Many struggle to engage in competitive integrated employment or in appropriate education or employment training programs that will prepare them for integrated employment. The objective of the Research Support Services for Employment of Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum (REYAAS) project is to examine barriers to and catalysts for improving employment and career development outcomes for young adults on the autism spectrum. This literature review describes the range of programs, models, and strategies that have been implemented to support the transition to competitive integrated employment for young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities including autism. It also identifies the funding sources supporting this work and the extent to which the existing programs address disparities in outcomes for young adults based on gender, race, and ethnicity.

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