Reductions in adaptive behaviors are often seen when persons with autism age out of school, particularly in situations when stimulating educational or work activities are no longer present.
A study was conducted to test whether a different outcome, that is, improvements in behavior will be seen when adults with autism engage in vocational or educational activities when no longer in school. Participants were 153 adults with ASD (average age=30.2 years). Data were collected at two time points 5.5 years apart.
Result: It was found that “greater vocational independence was related to subsequent reductions in autism symptoms and maladaptive behaviors, and improvements in activities of daily living”. That is, vocational independence at Wave 1 predicted improved behavioral outcomes measured 5.5 years later. This dynamic is similar to that usually seen for adults without disabilities.
The contrary direction, that is, behavioral symptoms outcomes at Wave 1 predicting vocational independence at five years later, was not seen. Providing work activities in vocational or employment settings should be an integral component in the adult life of persons with autism.
Reference: “Engagement in Vocational Activities Promotes Behavioral Development for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorders”. Authors: Julie Lounds Taylor •Julie Lounds Taylor • Leann E. Smith •Marsha R. Mailick, J Autism Developmental Disorders (2014) 44:1447–1460