New Virtual Program Helps Adults With ASD Prepare for Job Interviews

Many adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have experienced difficulty in seeking employment. Some of these adults may have trouble interacting socially with their interviewer, as well as being able to express the strengths and attributes they can bring to the job. As a result, the employment rate for individuals with ASD has always been quite low. However, a new interactive program has been designed to help adults with Autism improve their interview skills, creating a better chance for them to successfully land the job.

According to a new Northwestern Medicine study which is being published today by the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, a new human simulation training program was designed specifically for adults with a range of psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders, including ASD. This program is the first human-based simulation that gives adults repeated practice and feedback on their interviewing skills.

Matthew J. Smith, Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, states, “Adults with an Autism spectrum disorder tend to have difficulties with social communication, which may interfere with them having a successful job interview.” He continues, “Our program helps trainees learn to talk about their ability to work as a team member so they sound easy to work with. They also learn how to sound interested and enthusiastic about a potential job, as well as convey that they are a hard worker”. Smith and his fellow researchers hope that the training program will improve employment potential for those with Autism disorders.

The trial of the program was conducted by Northwestern in conjunction with SIMmersion LLC and Morris Bell, Psychiatry Professor at Yale School of Medicine. The trial included adults between the ages of 18 and 31. Sixteen of these individuals received the job simulation training, while a control group of ten did not. The training group participated in 15 to 20 job interviews through virtual reality. The entire group then participated in two follow up interviews with a trained actor who played a human resource employee. The videos of these interviews were then scored by a human resource expert that did not have knowledge of which individuals participated in the training.

The results of the study showed that there was a significant improvement in the trained group, as they appeared less tense and more able to express themselves. In terms of self-confidence, the scores for the training group improved 22% after their experience with the program.

The ICare4Autism International Conference will be discussing the Global Autism Workforce Initiative, as well as additional technological advances in Autism treatments. This conference, which is being held in NYC from June 30th to July 2nd, features presentations from many notable speakers, as well as interactive workshops, including one from Michele McKeone, Founder and CEO of Autism Expressed. Ms. McKeone will be demonstrating how her program helps build a foundation of digital and marketable skills to improve the employment opportunities for those on the Autism spectrum. This is an Autism conference that you won’t want to miss! Early bird ticket specials are still available! To view the full list of speakers and to select your tickets, please click here.

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