Factors associated with participation in employment for high school leavers with autism

Authors: Chiu, C., Chan, F., Strauser, D., Feuerstein, M., Ditchman, N.,Cardoso, E., O'Neill, J., & Muller, V.
Year Published 2013
Publication Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Volume 43
Number 8
Pages 1832-1842
Publisher Springer US

Research about what happens after students with autism leave high school is limited. Some research has focused on factors related to transitioning from school to work. In addition a few studies have investigated predictors of participation in employment for individuals with autism. Individuals with autism would like to be gainfully employed but many barriers exist. To help ensure a successful transition from secondary school to work more information about the factors associated with this process is needed.


This study used a national representative data set to identify factors associated with employment.


The setting for this study is not described.


A secondary data analysis of NLTS2 longitudinal data set was performed. The sample included 830 secondary school students (ages 13 through 16) who had autism as a primary disability. The study sample was taken from currently available NLTS2 raw data from Institute of Educational Sciences.

Data Collection

This included data from the NLTS2 Waves 1 to Wave 4 parent/youth phone interview and/or mail survey data (Wave 1 was collected in the 2000–2001; Wave 2 was collected in the 2002–2003; Wave 3 was collected in the 2004–2005; and Wave 4 was collected in the 2006–2007 school years) and Wave 1 to Wave 2 school program survey data (Wave 1 was collected in the 2001–2002 and Wave 2 was collected in the 2003–2004 school years). The information was gathered for the first time in the 2000–2001 school year and last time in the 2006–2007 school year. SAS 9.2 was used for statistical analyses. All the data used had no missing values. The cases containing missing values were removed. Variables were described using descriptive statistics. Continuous variables, values were reported as means ± standard deviations (SDs). Categorical variables, values were reported as percents. A three-step process was used to determine the factors significantly associated with participation in employment for students with autism.


There was no control or comparison condition.


Among those students who left high school (weighted n = 4,167), 56 % (weighted n = 2,333)had participated in employment after exiting high school and 44 % (weighted n = 1,834) had not. The average age of those who went to work was 21 years. They worked in 29 different types of occupations. The top five job types included: material recording, scheduling, dispatching, and distribution (36.3 %), information and record clerks (12.9 %), building cleaning and pest control workers (8.5 %), retail sales workers (5.2 %), and other production occupations (5.1 %). The mean hourly wage was $7.90 with a range from $2.00 to $30.00, (SD = $22.00).


Family social status, student characteristics, and high school transition planning services were the significant factors that impacted whether or not individuals participated in employment.

URL http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23224594
Disabilities Autism Spectrum Disorder
Populations Transition-age youth (14 - 24) | White / Caucasian | Male & Female | Other
Outcomes Other
Research Design Observational
Peer Reviewed No