Employment outcomes of transition-aged adults with autism spectrum disorder: A state of the states report

Authors: Escovitz, K., & Donegan, K.
Year Published 2014
Publication American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Volume 119
Number 1
Pages 64-83
Publisher AAIDD

Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face a number of obstacles when transitioning from school to work. The cost to society to support individuals with ASD who do not work is very high. The incidence of ASD is on the rise. It is important to make sure vocational services provided by the states are leading to successful employment outcomes for these individuals.


The goal of this study was to examine the employment outcomes of transition aged youth with ASD served by the states vocational rehabilitation system.


This study included individuals with autism spectrum disorder served by multiple vocational rehabilitation agencies in various settings.


Data was taken from the Rehabilitation Services Administration's (RSA); RSA-911 Case Service Report database. This database hold records of adults who apply for a states' vocational rehabilitation services. Demographics, vocational services received, and outcomes for closed cases (i.e. employed or not, hours worked etc...) are located there. The study examined the records of 34, 314 youth with ASD who were age 21 and under. Data was pulled for individuals whose cases were closed from 2002 to 2011.

Data Collection

A number of variables were examined in the study. This included: successful employment outcome, hours worked and wages and the cost of services. Data was pulled for all of the United States. Washington DC and US territories were excluded. Data from each state and year was reported for each study question. In order to identify trends data from 2002 to 2006 was compared to 2007 to 2011 and regression analysis was used to evaluate the data. Mean data for the total transition population served by VR was compared to the ASD group and t test statistics were used to compare outcomes between the two groups.


There was no control or comparison condition.


Over a ten year time span, the number of transition aged individuals with ASD served by VR has increased over time. While employment outcomes, hours and wages have not improved for the group. Transition aged youth with ASD were more likely to receive a positive employment outcome if they received VR services as compared to all youth with disabilities served by VR. However, youth with ASD worked less hours and had lower wages. This means they were underemployed. The cost of VR services for this group remained stable. There is much variability between states.


Transition aged individuals with ASD are accessing VR services. However, their employment outcomes have not improved. More research is needed to determine what influences the variability between states and improve work outcomes for this group.

URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24450322
Disabilities Autism Spectrum Disorder
Populations Hispanic or Latino | American Indian or Alaska Native | Asian | Black / African American | Native Hawaiian / other Pacific Islander | White / Caucasian | Male & Female
Outcomes Employment acquisition | Increase in hours worked | Wages
NIDILRR Funded Not Reported
Research Design Observational
Peer Reviewed Yes