National Autism Indicators Report 2016: Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Outcomes

Friday, May 13, 2016: 5:30 PM-7:00 PM
Hall A (Baltimore Convention Center)
A. Roux1, J. Rast2, P. Shattuck3 and K. A. Anderson4, (1)3020 Market St., Ste 560, A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, PA, (2)A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, PA, (3)A.J. Drexel Autism Institute, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, (4)AJ Drexel Autism Institute, Philadelphia, PA
Background:  Approximately four in every 10 young adults with autism never work
for pay outside the home between high school and their early 20s. Of these, 28%
never receive services to assist them in attaining these outcomes. The U.S.
Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) system is the largest provider of employment services
for individuals with disabilities. Recent revisions to federal legislation aim
to increase participation in integrated workplaces with sustainable wages for
people with developmental disabilities who receive support services. Yet, we
understand little about the role and effectiveness of VR services for those
with autism.

Objectives:  We characterize VR service users with autism, the services they
receive, services outcomes, and how their experiences compare with other disability

Methods:  Data came from the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration
(RSA) database which contains records for cases closed by state VR agencies. We
analyzed data for 10,534 clients with autism who received services and had a
case that closed in FY2013. We compared outcomes of the autism group to those
with intellectual disability (ID) and mental illness (MI) including anxiety,
depression and other mood disorders.  

Results:  VR service users with autism were primarily male (83%), White
(85%), and non-Hispanic (95%) with a mean age of 21.6 years. The majority (75%)
had an IEP during high school, and 10% had a job at the time of application to
VR. Average duration of services was 743 days - roughly comparable to those
with ID and MI. The most frequent service types for those with autism were
assessment (64%), VR counseling (60%) and job placement (47%). Over half (56%)
of individuals with autism exited VR with employment - a rate slightly higher
than those with ID (50%) and MI (46%). One-third of those with autism were in
supportive employment (37%) and almost all had competitive employment (97%) -
earning at least minimum wage in an integrated workplace and not paid less than
a non-disabled person in the same position. Individuals with autism who were
employed earned an average of $220 weekly, averaging 23 hours of work per week.
Individuals with MI averaged higher pay ($336/week) and hours (30/week). Common
occupations for those with autism were office and administrative support (22%),
food preparation (17%), grounds cleaning/maintenance (12%). Fewer with ID
worked in office and administrative support (12%), and more worked in food
preparation (22%) and grounds cleaning/maintenance (23%). The array of job
types the MI group experienced was much more varied.  

Conclusions:  Over half of individuals with autism who received VR
services attained employment - a rate slightly higher than those with ID or MI. Approximately one-third were in supportive employment and nearly
all had an outcome of competitive employment. They typically remained in the
program for 2 years with services focusing on assessment, VR counseling, job
placement and supports. Foundational information about VR services,
experiences, and outcomes for those with autism may help inform transition
planning and improve outcomes for those who receive VR services.