Closing the Autism Gap Using Mobile Technology

Yesterday the Associated Press published an article that uncovered some pretty astonishing information about the unemployment rate of young adults with Autism. The article reports that 1 in 3 Autistic young adults have no paid job experience, college education, or technical school nearly 7 years after graduating from high school. This is obviously a major problem, with roughly 500,000 autistic kids reaching adulthood in the next decade. What’s even more worrisome is that this study was actually done before unemployment peaked during the current recession, meaning that the situation is even more bleak than the results from the study show.

Mobile Technology Sheds a Ray of Hope

The article above also mentions Virginia Commonwealth University, where research projects are being conducted to investigate whether on-the-job training and teaching social cues to high school students with autism makes them more employable. One such project is the Autism DRRP (Disability Rehabilitation Research Project) by Tony Gentry and Jennifer McDonough. This study shows that mobile technology like the iPad and iPod touch have several positive results, including:

  • Reducing the number of hours of job coaching support that is needed
  • Improving on-time performance of job-related duties
  • Supporting appropriate social behavior in the workplace
  • Supporting performance of complex work tasks
  • Improving the worker’s sense of self-efficacy
  • Acceptance by co-workers as a useful support tool

Mobile Technology Cannot Exist in a Vacuum

While these results are encouraging, mobile technology requires the right programs and apps to really be successful. All of the above objectives can be accomplished using our Functional Planning System, a video-based planning and prompting tool for the iPad and iPod touch. This application allows you to incorporate the concept of self video-modeling by recording your own videos and attaching them to scheduled activities and tasks for a custom visual reminder. Alarms may be set in the application using the iOS notification system, and activities can be organized into separate lists (i.e. Home, School, Work, etc.)

Holding down a job requires a certain level of personal responsibility and independence. The Functional Planning System helps users to take responsibility for their schedule and tackle everyday tasks independently.

By | 2017-04-30T16:18:30+00:00 May 15th, 2012|Corporate, Education|2 Comments

About the Author:

Mike is the President of the Conover Company, an assessment company that focuses on transition, social/emotional learning, and independent living skills.

2 Comments

  1. TSABIKA THARRENOU May 18, 2012 at 3:45 am - Reply

    DEAR SIR, MY 8 YEARS SON IS INTO AUTISM SPECTRUM.HE HAS LIMITED VERBAL SKILLS.HE LOVES TECHNOLOGY SUCH TOUCH SCREEN MOBILE PHONES ,COMPUTERS ETC.HE ATTENDS CLASSES AT ASPECIAL SCHOOL[GREECE].THE TEACHERS THERE KEEP ON SAYING TO ME NOT TO COUNT SO MUCH IN TECHNOLOGY AS CONCERN MY SON COMMUNICATION NEEDS.WHAT IS YOUR OPINION? THANK YOU.

    • Mike Schmitz May 21, 2012 at 9:31 am - Reply

      Hello! I can understand where your son’s teachers are coming from when they say ‘not to count on technology,’ but technology like the iPod touch & iPad are tools that can open a lot of doors for someone like your son. Like any tool, mobile technology is only useful if you know how to use it. That might be what your son’s teachers are trying to convey to you. However, there has been a ton of research done in the last few years that shows that mobile technology like the iPod touch & iPad are very effective because the individual is motivated to use them. A dedicated speech device instantly labels the user as a special needs individual, while the iPad has the exact opposite effect. Here’s a link to a Wall Street Journal article which talks about the iPad having a “norming” effect. We call it “the cool factor”, but the idea is the same: the iPad doesn’t have the negative social stigma attached to it, so the individual is much more likely to use it. I hope this gives you some piece of mind about the benefits of mobile technology for your son.

Leave A Comment