Clinical differential analysis of persons with autism in a work setting: A follow-up study

Authors: García-Villamisar, D., Wehman, P., & Navarro, M. D.
Year Published 2000
Publication Jounal of Vocational Rehabilitation
Volume 14
Number 3
Pages 183-185
Publisher IOS Press

Adults with autism have typically not been considered suitable candidates for employment in the workforce. This is despite a multitude of information on employment of people with severe disabilities and published examples of how individuals with autism have successfully gained and maintained work in their communities using supported employment. People with autism remains underrepresented in supported employment programs. There is little research that focuses on analysis of differential efficacy between various employment modalities (ie. supported employment versus sheltered work).


The purpose of this study was to analyze the differential impact of supported employment versus sheltered work. The authors hypothesized that the group enrolled in the sheltered workshop would have more pronounced autistic symptoms at the end of the program than the group who participated in supported work.


The study took place in sheltered workshops and a variety of community/supported employment settings.


Fifty one individuals with autism participated in the study. Twenty six individuals in sheltered work program were matched to 25 individuals with autism in supported work program. The average age of those in sheltered work was around 22 years for both groups. The majority of participants in both groups were male. The average IQ was around 56 for the sheltered work group and 57 for the supported work group. Individuals in the supported work program worked in jobs that were predominantly in service sectors.

Data Collection

Data was collected using the Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) an instrument for screening and diagnosis of autism that covers 14 domains generally affected by severe problems in autism, plus an overall category of impression of autism. The sheltered work group was compared with the supported work group using repeated measures of analysis of variance. Mean and standard deviation scores for CARS were reported for the sheltered work and supported work groups.


The sheltered work group was compared with the supported work group using repeated measures of analysis
of variance.


At the start of the study 1996 there was no difference between total CARS scores between the two groups. In 1999 the sheltered work group showed more pronounced symptoms of autism. The supported employment group showed no variation in pathology between 1996-1999. The sheltered group showed higher pathological severity.


Individuals with moderate autism in the supported work program were employed in their communities. These individuals did not see a change in their pathology over the 3 year study period. Individual who were in the sheltered work group showed a deterioration in their pathology during this time frame.

Disabilities Autism Spectrum Disorder
Populations Male & Female
Outcomes Employment acquisition
Research Design Quasi-experimental
Peer Reviewed Yes