Employment Interventions for Individuals with ASD, DD, & ID: A Meta Analysis of Single Case Research

Poster Presentation
Friday, May 11, 2018: 11:30 AM-1:30 PM
Hall Grote Zaal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
J. Davis1, K. Mendenhall2, T. Glad2, M. Walkingshaw3 and W. M. McMahon4, (1)Educational Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, (2)University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, (3)University of Utah, Salt lake City, UT, (4)Psychiatry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disabilities (ID), and/or other developmental disabilities (DD) often face challenges when transitioning from school based services to competitive employment in adulthood. Many individuals in this population enter adulthood without the necessary skills to independently acquire a competitive job or maintain a position. At this crucial transition point, needed are effective intervention practices to support individuals on the path to gainful employment.


The objective of this study is to review and analyze the available literature to better understand the current state of intervention research that supports individuals with ASD, ID, and or DD in the process of obtaining and maintaining competitive employment.


A comprehensive literature review was conducted that resulted in a pool of 3,372 studies. After reading the title and abstract of each of the identified articles, the number of included studies was reduced to 544. Additional inclusion criteria included 1) studies that had utilized Single Case methodology, 2) studies that targeted an individual with ASD, ID or DD, and 3) studies that targeted outcomes related to pre-employment skills or specific job skills. Following the application of additional inclusion criteria, 21 studies were identified and coded for relevant variables. Each study was coded based on the following variable 1) quality of research design 2) Intervention method, 3) Participant Characteristics (age & diagnosis), and 4) Setting of Intervention. For the current study, the Tau-U ES was used to determine intervention effects. Tau-U is a method for measuring data non overlap between two phases (A and B). Statistical significance between variables was assessed using the Kruskal-Wallis H test with the Dunn post-hoc test.


The current study found an overall TauU effect size = .79 CI95 [.72, .81]. These results include 67 effect sizes from 21 studies with 50 unique participants. Sixteen studies employed a high quality single case research design. Three studies utilized technology mediated interventions (TauU = .81 CI95 [.77, .85]), three studies targeted social skill interventions (TauU = .65 CI95 [.62, .68]), one study investigated interviewing skills (TauU = 1.0 CI95 [.77, 1.00]), and 14 studies targeted specific job skills (TauU = .80 CI95 [.77, .83]) as outcomes. No significant differences between studies were found based on age, diagnosis or setting of intervention.


The current study examined intervention research for individuals with ASD, ID, and DD in the areas of employment and pre-employment skill development. Much of the research in this area centers around training specific skills for specific jobs. Relatively few studies target job preparation skills (e.g. interviewing, application development, etc.). While several high quality single case studies exist that promote effective practices for developing employment skills with this population, more research is needed to support individuals with ASD, ID, and /or DD in the process of obtaining jobs and maintaining employment opportunities.