The Outcome of a Supported Employment Scheme for High-Functioning Adults with Autism or Asperger Syndrome
- Lynn Mawhood
- Patricia Howlin
The article describes the outcome of a 2 year supported employment project for high-functioning adults with autism. Thirty individuals with a diagnosis of autism or Asperger syndrome living within the London area took part in the scheme. The control group comprised 20 individuals of similar intellectual and linguistic ability,and previous employment history, living in metropolitan areas out-side London. Over the course of the project significantly more of the supported group than the controls found work; job levels were higher; they were in work for a greater percentage of the time; and they received significantly higher wages. Thirteen different employers (mostly multinational companies) were involved during the course of the project and several were willing to take more than one employee because of their positive experience of employing someone with autism. Although existing resources within the disability employment service hadnot previously been able to provide effective job finding and support services for this group, the current scheme demonstrated that, with specialist input, supported employment can be very effective. Moreover the costs, although initially high, reduced significantly over time. One of the most expensive and time-consuming aspects of the scheme, but one that appeared to be crucial for success, was the need for close liaison with employers in order to explore appropriate job opportunities and to match these carefully to the skills and abilities of individual clients. However, although some elements of the scheme can continue to be supported through government funding, no financial provision is available for this initial and essential stage of job finding. If programmes of this kind are to continue to provide help for individuals with autism, it is crucial that such funding is provided.