VCU Study Shows that Project SEARCH Results in Competitive Employment for Youth with Autism.
A Virginia Commonwealth University study of Project SEARCH sites shows that intensive job training benefits youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders, one of the most challenging disabilities in the world where only 20 percent find employment. Published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, the study demonstrates that the nine months of intensive internship training, in conjunction with an engaged hospital, can lead to high levels of competitive employment in areas such as cardiac care, wellness, ambulatory surgery and pediatric intensive care units.
"This is the first study of its kind to demonstrate the skills and abilities youth with ASD have and the success they can experience at work," said Paul H. Wehman, Ph.D., principal investigator of the study and Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Director of the VCU Autism Center at the VCU School of Education. Previous research in this area showed that youth with ASD were employed at lower rates than even their peers with other disabilities.Traditionally, youth with autism between the ages of 18 and 22 remain unemployed after leaving school at rates of over 80 percent. But VCU researchers reported that those who completed a program called “Project SEARCH with Autism Supports” achieved employment at 87 percent. This study also showed that youth with ASD required less intense support as they became more competent at their work task.