Advancing Employable Skills for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Survey Study

This study explored how a school district prepares students with Autism Spectrum Disorder for future employment opportunities. The research questions asked how educators develop the social and communication skills of students with ASD and explored staff members’ knowledge about supports and resources concerning supports and resources available to assist this population of students and the outcomes for students with ASD after they leave the high school environment. Seventy three participants, including, general education instructors, specialized academic instructors, school psychologists, occupational therapists, counselors, paraprofessionals, school site office staff, administrators, a speech pathologist, and a representative from the school district, responded to a survey. Results indicated that staff members utilized interventions and strategies such as direct instruction, modeling, redirection, special education programs (IEPs), and group work to prepare students for social and communication skills, they were aware of supports and resources to assist students with ASD, and they were also aware of the outcomes for individuals with ASD once they leave the secondary learning environment. The majority of participants from the three educational settings responded that schools did not adequately prepare students with ASD for competitive employment, and respondents felt they did not have sufficient knowledge to assist students with ASD to obtain employable goals. Implications, limitations and directions for further research were discussed.