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autism, pre-employment, school-based occupational therapy


E-poster for the 18th World Federation of Occupational Therapy Congress.



  • Fewer than half the young adults diagnosed with autism are employed (Gotham et al., 2015; Chiang, et al, 2013).
  • Individuals diagnosed with autism have a higher rate of unemployment compared to those with other disabilities (Buescher et al., 2014).
  • Educators of individuals diagnosed with autism stress employment as a desired and measured outcome (Schall et al. 2012).
  • Parents of individuals diagnosed with autism rated employment support as the greatest service priority (Neary et al.,2015).
  • Individuals diagnosed with autism are 7.36 times more likely to be in paid employment if they receive vocational services (Park & Bouk, 2018).
  • In the U.S., students with disabilities from the age of 16 must have transition services (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004).

Significance - There is limited research on employment readiness programs in high schools for autism and we found no research on virtual employment readiness programs for high schools students.

PURPOSE - To explore whether the Simulated Café, an employment readiness program, shows preliminary promise in achieving intended outcomes and if the school staff, student’s and families find the program acceptable.

OUTCOMES - 1) students increase their independence in completing job tasks of working in a café and 2) The program is acceptable to 2a) staff, 2b) students and 2c) student’s’ families.