High Impact Vocational Services to Achieve Employment More Rapidly

Oral Presentation
Saturday, May 12, 2018: 2:52 PM
Willem Burger Hal (de Doelen ICC Rotterdam)
D. Nord1 and K. Hamre2, (1)Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, (2)School of Social Work, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Background: Employment plays a critical role in social, emotional, and financial well-being for people with autism. With the various challenges associated with autism, many people face significant barriers to obtaining and maintaining a competitive job in the community. In the United States, this results in people with autism experiencing considerably lower employment outcomes. Central to improving employment for this population, it is critical to understand what services and key individual variables relate to quality outcomes.

Objectives: To identify high impact vocational services that increase the odds of employment for people with autism. To describe how education and age interact on the length of time to obtain a job. To test the moderating effect of high impact vocational services on the effect of education on the length of time to obtain employment.

Methods: This study analyzed a national vocational dataset from the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration. Subjects included all service users with autism as a primary or secondary impairment, who were unemployed at program entry. The resulting sample included 5,182 subjects. Analyses included logistic regression to model the odds of employment of all subjects and linear regression to model the months to achieve employment for the subsample that obtain a job prior to program exit (n = 2,695). Key variables were controlled in analyses, including significance of disability and educational policies affecting age cohorts.

Results: The study found people with autism entering the Vocational Rehabilitation Services program experienced 10 to 22 times higher odds (p < .001; pseudo R2 = .34) of obtaining employment, compared to the reference group, if they received a combination of two or all three following three high impact supports; job search assistance, job placement assistance, and on-the-job supports. Additionally, subjects averaged 25 months to obtain employment. Education and age had a significant interaction effect (p < .001; R2 = .196) on the number of months to obtain a job. The effects of education on reducing time to job acquisition are considerably stronger for older people with autism than younger. Finally, holding all else constant, high impact supports significantly moderated education’s effect on the months to obtain employment (p < .01; R2 = .24) by achieving the outcome four to 17 months sooner than those with the same education that did not receive the support.

Conclusions: Searching and obtaining a job is a difficult process, thus it is critical to target interventions and effort in ways that can produce effective and efficient results. This study highlighted the important relationships between specific high impact employment services and job attainment, a finding with direct policy and practice implications. Additionally, this study focuses needed attention on the relationship of education, age, high impact services, to investigate key variables that can reduce the time to obtain employment. These results have implications that can guide future causal research, as well as inform systemic policy and practices.