Pathways to Employment for Youth and Young Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Youth with ASD have among the most difficult transitions to adulthood as evidenced by chronic under- and unemployment, lack of engagement and lack of independent living after high school. It appears that these youth also have different high school experiences than their peers with other disabilities. Specifically, youth with ASD appear to have fewer opportunities to develop self-determination and career development. This situation may be able to be remedied by changes in the high school curriculum.

The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital was pleased to announce Dr. Carol Schall as the keynote speaker. Dr. Schall is Co-Director, Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence; Director, Virginia Autism Resource Center and the Principal Investigator in the development of the Community Based Functional Skills Assessment for Transition Aged Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders, a grant funded by Autism Speaks.

Dr. Schall has over 30 years of experience supporting adolescents and adults with ASD as a teacher, group home supervisor, administrator, researcher, and consultant. Dr. Schall provided positive behaviour support, consultation and instructional technical assistance for the Project SEARCH Plus ASD Supports program for the past eight years at Virginia Commonwealth University. She was also the research coordinator for this project. Additionally, Dr. Schall has consulted nationally and internationally on issues related to adolescents and young adults with ASD.

Dr. Schall reviewed research regarding employment outcomes for youth with ASD as well as review three important pathways to employment. These pathways are pre-employment internships, supported employment and customized employment. She also provided specific examples regarding the supports youth and adults with ASD use to acquire and maintain employment in community-based, integrated environments. A separate Master Class with Dr. Schall was held after the Breakfast. This session specifically focused on essential skills that youth with ASD need to successfully transition from school to employment upon graduation from high school. Dr. Schall used case studies to illustrate these skills as well as discussed teaching and support strategies.

Research Poster Symposium

The research poster symposium was aimed at stimulating discussions of recent advances, experiences and challenges as well as providing an opportunity to showcase cutting-edge research within rehabilitation medicine.