Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EDD)
College of Education
PROBLEM: Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) commonly struggle transitioning into adulthood, specifically finding and obtaining employment. Statistically, individuals who are on the spectrum have lower employment rates, or hold jobs with lower earnings compared to their non-disabled co-workers in a large urban county South Florida. Despite the large unemployment rate for individuals with ASD, previous research has demonstrated that they are capable in working in occupations with proper ongoing vocational support.
METHOD: Forty-two vocational education specialists and 43 employers known to work with and to employ individuals with ASD ages ≥ 18 in a large urban county in South Florida were emailed a circular asking to take part in a semi-structured interview evaluating current vocational education training (VET) programs. The circular was also displayed in local business. Participant’s responses were then coded and categorized into multiple recurrent themes for each semi-structured interview question.
RESULTS: Of the 85 surveyed, 60 participated (n = 31 vocational specialist and n = 30 employers) via email, and 1 participated via telephone. Of the 31 vocational specialists who participated, 29 codes where produced from the 117 responses that were recorded. Four reoccurring themes were developed, which were autonomy, modeling, funding, and grocery store. Of the 30 employers who participated, 21 codes were produced from 118 responses. Three reoccurring themes were created, which were equality, consistency, and training.
SIGNIFICANCE: Responses from vocational specialists and employers of ASD were collectively analyzed and interpreted to create an Employer’s Guide for Integrating Employees with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The guide provides an outline for employers who hire and work with individuals with ASD. The guide includes strategies on what the employers can do to help individuals with ASD maintain long-term employment. It includes strategies to increase employee motivation, cope with stress management, helping employers get to know their employee, enhance communication, and improve social and behavioral skills. The hope is that as employers gain further understanding of ASD, it will allow them to successfully train employees who are on the spectrum as well as for adults with ASD enhancing employment outcomes and to live fulfilled lives.
Heinze, M. (2019). Perceptions of Vocational Education Training Specialists and Employers of Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder [Doctoral dissertation, Lynn University]. SPIRAL. https://spiral.lynn.edu/etds/325