Does Employment Help Autistic Adults Improve Quality of Life?

loans-for-unemployedResearchers at Vanderbilt University published results from a study demonstrating that more independent work environments may lead to reductions in autism symptoms and improve daily living for adults with the disorder.

The study examined 153 patients with autism and found that when the adults had greater independence and engagement, it led to improvements in the core characteristics of autism, such as problematic behaviors or the individuals’ ability to care independently for themselves.

Lead author Julie Lounds Taylor, Ph.D, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator stated, “We found that if you put the person with autism in a more independent vocational placement, this led to measurable improvements in their behaviors and daily living skills overall. One core value in the disability community and at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is placing people with disabilities in the most inclusive environments possible. In addition, this study gives us evidence that increasing the level of independence in an employment or vocational setting can lead to improvements in autism symptoms and other associated behaviors.”

The average age of individuals participating in the study was 30 years. All participants were a part of a larger longitudinal study examining both adolescents and adults with autism. Data collected for this research took place at two separate times within a 5.5 year span.

Taylor’s research examined autism symptoms like restricted interests, repetitive behaviors, communication impairments, and difficulties with social interactions. She found that individual’s involved with vocational activities demonstrated unique changes in their behavior expressions and overall lessening in autism symptoms that typically interfere with daily living skills.

These results demonstrate that employment may have therapeutic effects for adolescents with autism growing into adulthood. The results of the study were promising in that, vocational activities could help enhance overall well-being and quality of life for autistic individuals.

“The majority of research on autism has focused on early childhood, but autism is a lifelong disorder with impairments that limit quality of life throughout adulthood.  Given the prevalence of autism, now one in 68 children, we must continue to examine the factors that promote well-being and quality of life for adults with autism and other disabilities as a whole” Taylor said

Underemployment is a common issue affecting many adults with autism and 50% of adults with autism spend their day with little social, work, or community interaction.

For more information and the original article published on the topic, click here.

 

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