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Introduction to Special Issue - Autism Spectrum Disorders: Transition and Employment

by Carol Schall and Jennifer Todd McDonough

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Schall, C. & McDonough, J. (2010). Introduction to Special Issue - Autism Spectrum Disorders: Transition and Employment. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 32(1), 79-80.

The purpose of this special issue is to explore these issues and the practices that will assist providers and researchers in supporting youth and adults with ASD as they transition to adulthood. The first article by Schall and McDonough presents a description of ASD in adolescence and adulthood through the perspective of 3 case studies. These case studies present the experiences of three different individuals, one with autism, one with pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified and the third with Aspergers Disorder. Then, McDonough and Revell explore the benefits available to transition aged youth with ASD.

This topic is important to teams that support youth
with ASD to help them implement intensive services
by exploring potential funding sources. McDonough
and Revell provide creative and innovative methods
for using state and local agencies and organizations to develop services.

In the third article, Gentry, Wallace, Kvarfordt, and Lynch describe the innovative use of personal digital assistants for high school youth with ASD. Their research in the use of handheld devices promises to change the way practitioners implement visuals schedules and other such visual and organizational supports.

Handheld devices match adolescent culture and
provide support in a unobtrusive way in a work environment, making them ideal technology for meeting the scheduling and visual support needs of workers with ASD.

Next, Schall presents a review of Positive Behavior
Support and discusses specific issues related to implementation of PBS in the workplace. She includes a case study to illuminate the discussion as it relates to serving individuals with ASD. She emphasizes the importance of contextual fit between behavior strategy and the workplace. This issue is an important one for future research as it relates to successful employment for persons with ASD. Another issue that is frequently a barrier to successful transition is collaboration between vocational rehabilitation and educational
agencies.

In that context, Chappel and Somers discuss the
importance of team collaboration across agencies in
supporting transition to employment for youth with
ASD. During their discussion, they review important
legislation that presents the argument for increased collaboration between school and vocational rehabilitation agencies.

The final article in this special issue by Hendricks provides an overview of the current state of supported and competitive employment for individuals with ASD. In her review, Hendricks includes a synthesis of the published literature around the benefits of employment for individuals with ASD, the current state of employment, obstacle to employment, current service options for youth with ASD, and strategies for successful supported and competitive employment.

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