Self determination helps individuals with disabilities take an active role in their lives. There is a growing body of research indicating how self determination can be used to assist individuals with disabilities who are using supported employment to assist them with work. Some research indicates increases in autonomy among individuals using supported employment who learn self determined behaviors.
Choosing a job of one‚ own may enhance a person‚ success at work and overall career progression. People who choose their own jobs may select work that matches personal preferences. They may also be more motivated to do the job which can enhance job retention. In order to choose a job, job seekers in supported employment, must become aware of the possibilities. They must also learn about their abilities and work preferences. Research is needed to measure the impact of self determination training on adults with disabilities who want to go to work.
The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of a two phase self-determination package for adults with learning disabilities entering the job market for the first time.
The setting was two agencies that offered supported employment in South Wales and 20 job sites that offered a variety of tasks. Each participant was required to attend 3 job tasters for six sessions or 2 job taster sessions in each of three job types. Job tasters are short (4 hours), unpaid, time limited work experiences in the workplace. They allow individuals with disabilities to sample a variety of job duties and work cultures.
Forty individuals aged 19 to 52 years participated in the study. Each person had a label of mental retardation (referred to as LD in UK). The majority or 78% were attending adult training centers at the time of referral. One person dropped out of the study and 4 were involved in the pilot study. Twelve job seekers took part in the baseline phase, 12 in Intervention 1 and 11 in Intervention 2. More than half of the participants were rated as requiring only minimum assistance in daily living activities. A small number required regular personal care and close supervision. All were capable of interpreting picture prompts as a mean to communicate.
Observations were conducted on the second, fourth and sixth job taster sessions along with the reviews by each participants. Responses on key variables were recorded using continuous frequency counts throughout each taster session and review. Job review forms were also a source of data, providing information on accuracy of recall and consistency with choice. Job seeker independence was calculated by dividing the frequency of job coach assistance by the duration in minutes of each observation. Job tasters and reviews were measured separately. The extent to which job coach question required job seekers to express preferences and self appraise performances on tasks were also recorded. All questions were recorded under 3 sub categories: those asked in yes or no, open ended and option formats. Three types of job seeker responses were coded. The consistency of job preferences was measured by agreement between ratings of enjoyment of a task during the job taster review and an overall rating in response to the question: how much did you enjoy your job. Reliability was obtained for all key observational variables and was represented by the extent of agreement between observers. Observational data was analysed using the SPSS statistical package for Windows. A one-way ANOVA was used to evaluate the extent of change resulting from the introduction of Interventions 1 and 2, using a critical region of p < 0.01.
During baseline staff received no specific instructions on how to conduct the job tasters. There were two interventions. Intervention 1 was an introduction to self determination and systematic taster reviews. Job coaches received a day of training on self determination. Then a written questionnaire was provided for job coaches to evaluate the job seekers job performance, likes and dislikes etc... If the jobseeker could read he or she completed the questionnaire. Job coaches were also encouraged to use open ended and option questions and avoid yes/no formats during job taster sessions and reviews. During reviews job coaches were assisted by a profile form. Intervention 2 included the introduction of a pictorial job review profile. A second one day training was conducted 4 months after intervention one. Job coaches were encouraged to assist job seekers with completing the job review independently. For those who could not read a pictorial questionnaire was used. Those who could read and write were given the option of writing their responses to the questions if preferred.
Comparison conditions were individuals with no intervention.
Intervention 1 led to a reduction in job coach assistance during taster sessions and reviews. Intervention 2 led to a further drop in job coach assistance during reviews. The results also indicated that job seekers were coming up with and expressing personal preferences that were consistent with statements they made earlier.
The interventions seemed to work on a practical level. Job coaches were able to adopt the approaches. Participants with mild and moderate learning disabilities were able to complete pictorial job reviews with no or minimal prompting. More research is needed.