Prevalence and Correlates of Employment and Postsecondary Education in Transition-Age Youth with Autism in Vocational Rehabilitation

Poster Presentation
Thursday, May 10, 2018: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
J. Rast1, A. Roux2, K. Anderson3 and P. Shattuck1, (1)Drexel University A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, PA, (2)A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, (3)Life Course Outcomes Research Program, Drexel University A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, PA
Background: Transition-age youth with autism (TAYA) experience poor postsecondary outcomes across a range of indicators related to employment and related services. Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) is a source of public assistance for youth who seek employment, and youth with autism are a growing segment of VR service users. Postsecondary education (PSE) facilitates skills building that can lead to employment and better wages. Recent federal legislation seeks to improve PSE opportunities and employment outcomes of youth with disabilities. We know little about how the employment and PSE outcomes of TAYA vary from those of other youth with disabilities who used VR services, or if the correlates of successful outcomes differ by group.

Objectives: We will describe the characteristics of TAYA who use VR services compared to transition-age youth (TAY) with other intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). We will analyze the correlates of employment and advancement of PSE after VR exit for TAYA in comparison toTAY with IDD.

Methods: This study used RSA-911 FFY 2015 data for TAYA (age 14-24). In comparison, we looked at TAY with intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, or traumatic brain injury, who did not have autism as a cause of their job impairment. The two outcomes of interest were exit from VR with employment and advancement of PSE. Previous studies have shown that VR outcomes vary by state for TAY with IDD. Therefore we considered state of service provision to accurately model the clustered nature of this data using generalized estimating equations (GEE) to estimate population average values of the correlates of the outcomes of interest.

Results: TAYA more often left VR with employment (59% of TAYA versus 51% of TAY with IDD) or advancement in PSE (13% versus 7.4%).

Overall, the correlates of exit from VR with employment were similar across groups: older age; having family or friends as the primary source of support; and receipt of most services were associated with increased odds of employment. Spending a higher than average number of days in VR services was associated with lower odds of employment.

The strongest correlate of advancement of PSE was receipt of PSE training services. Job readiness training and on-the-job supports were negatively associated with advancement of PSE in both groups, as was older age and public insurance. Having a “most significant disability” was associated with lower odds of advancement in PSE in TAYA, but not in TAY with IDD. Spending longer in VR services was positively associated with advancement of PSE.

Conclusions: While the main purpose of VR is to provide services and supports to achieve employment, support for advancement of PSE is a critical step on the pathway to employment. The correlates of successful employment differ from the correlates of advancement of PSE, indicating the importance of matching services to goals. Expectations for employment and educational advancement should be made clear in the Individualized Plan for Employment at the initiation of the VR process. Future study should examine state variation in receipt of PSE in relation to employment outcomes.