Improving Job Outcomes for Youth and Adults with Aspergers Disorder (AD) or High-Functioning Autism (HFA)


Status: Not yet recruiting
Keywords: Aspergers Disorder , High-Functioning Autism , Job Seeking , Job Outcomes , Utah State Office of Rehabilitation , Personalized Employment Profile
IRB Number: 00060702
Specialty: Radiology
Sub Specialties:

Brief Summary

This is an exploratory study to develop a Personalized Employability Profile (PEP) instrument tailored for AS/HFA clients (Aim 1). Specifically, the PEP will include assessments of receptive and expressive language, because these differences in AS/HFA clients do not track with IQ and difficulties in communication arising from deficits in these areas are usually underestimated by both employers and Job Coaches. It will also include special sections on socialization skills, which are an area of weakness for AA/HFA adults, and on comorbidities and abnormal sensory responses, which have a high incidence in this client group.  The project will also develop a training program for Job Coaches contracted to USOR that teaches the Job Coaches how to use this PEP and communicate effectively with AS/HFA clients (Aims 2 and 3). This project will:

  1. Develop an ASD-specific assessment for employment (a collaboration with Dr. June Taylor, Dr. Jeff Anderson and Dr. Janet Lainhart from the University of Utah Departments of Radiology and Psychiatry). These Personalized Employment Profiles (PEP) will include: (Section A) Life Skills; (section B) measures of receptive and expressive language ability; (Section C)socialization and coping skills; and (Section D) comorbidities and abnormal sensory responses.  Recommended supports and accommodations will also be noted.
  2. Recruit a cohort of 4 Employment Specialists (“Job Coaches”) to support 8 ASD individuals with AS/HFA who are seeking employment.  ASD participants will be recruited from Dr. Lainhart’s longitudinal study, University of Utah IRB 10391. Job Coaches will be recruited by Dr. Tim Riesen from Utah State University's Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation, who is Director of Utah Supported Employment Training (USET)(Web. 10/18/2012. []).  AS/HFA individuals will be recruited from adults who are part of University of Utah IRB 10391, a longitudinal study of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders. 
  3. Develop a 10 to 12 hour competency-based training for the Job Coach cohort on how to assess and support people with ASD in seeking and maintaining employment.  After this training, Job Coaches will be able to use the Personal Profile, to do environmental assessments of workplaces (evaluate noise level, odors, crowding, lighting, interruptions, and space navigation) with an individual client’s Profile in mind, understand employment accommodations useful for clients (such as job-carving and sensory accommodations) and be able to recommend employer-directed programs such as sensitivity training, in order to improve employment outcomes for their ASD clients.
  4. Final products:
    1. One 10 to 12 hour ASD-specific competency-based training for Job Coaches.
    2. ASD employment training material for the Job Coach training
    3. Personal Employability Profile that provides an individual profile of strengths, weaknesses, and recommended job support

We will do exit interviews with the Job Coaches and obtain their feedback on the PEP, to improve the PEP as an employability assessment.  The results of this exploratory study will be used as preliminary data to secure future funding to validate the efficacy of the PEP instrument and Job Coach training program in improving employment outcomes for ASD clients.

Principal Investigator: June Taylor
Department: Radiology Research
Co Investigator: Janet Lainhart
Co Investigator: Jeffrey Anderson

Contact Information

Name:Charles Latner
Phone: (801) 587-8638

Inclusion Criteria

AS/HFA subjects will be recruited from adults who are part of University of Utah IRB 10391, a longitudinal study of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (R01) - hereafter referred to as Longitudinal Study of Autism - and whose neuropsychological and clinical data reside in a large unique longitudinal autism database resource currently funded by NIMH (PIs: Lainhart, Bigler, Lange).  Subjects must

  • have IQs> 80
  • be seeking employment
  • be eligible for USOR employment counseling 

An AS/HFA subject plus a family member (or caretaker or guardian) who is familiar with the the subject's current level of socialization and history of employment will be referred to as a "Participant Team" hereafter.

Exclusion Criteria

AS/HFA clients without close family members, caretakers or guardians familiar with their current level of socialization will be excluded, because of the requirement that it requires a Participant Team to complete the PEP and meet with the Job Coach to go over the PEP.