New Project Focuses on Autism
SEDL’s Disability Research to Practice program has formed another important partnership through new funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The partnership is with the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Central Florida (UCF-CARD) and supports research on features of effective service delivery that promote long-term employment placements of people with autism.
Approximately 1.5 million Americans are believed to have some form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which refers to autism and related disorders. This means that 1 in every 150 eight-year-olds has ASD. At the same time, employment rates for people with disabilities are declining, and people with ASD often experience lower employment rates than many other groups of persons with disabilities.
The UCF-CARD partnership focuses on research investigating effective strategies to support persons with ASD in obtaining and maintaining employment. Statewide vocational rehabilitation service systems may utilize findings from the research to more effectively serve persons with ASD. Best practice examples will be identified from effective local providers of employment-related services to persons with ASD. Ultimately, the research may inform family members and other advocates about services and contact people that are effective and informed about helping people with ASD find employment. The research can also inform personal and employer supports and accommodations that facilitate employment success for people with ASD.
Research focuses on the current underservice to people with ASD in such areas as vocational rehabilitation in order to build capacity needed at the local community level. “People with ASD want to work—and need to work, like everyone else,” says SEDL program associate Frank Martin. “Our research focuses on what vocational rehabilitation practices are linked to employment successes.”
SEDL and UCF-CARD staff will conduct two systematic reviews, implement a rigorous process of identifying and validating vocational rehabilitation best practices, study the university-based statewide network of CARD centers in Florida, and conduct case studies of individuals with ASD, their families, and employers. As the research progresses, SEDL staff will disseminate the findings through Web-based resources, webcasts, and subscriber e-lists.