Research published in the Journal of Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, gives individuals with Autism and their supporters a new reason to celebrate bringing their talents to the workplace. Published in February 2017, new data suggests that, when supported, the strong interests of individuals with Autism may in the long term, develop into successful careers.
A New Paradigm
Individuals with Autism may show deep interest in narrow topics. Rather than a barrier to social and academic development, recently published research (and evolving thinking across the field) shows that “preferred interests can be strengths.” Using these interests, rather than discouraging them, can lead to better outcomes, including increasing attention and engagement and reducing anxiety in individuals with autism.”
Previous blogs have highlighted companies that hire individuals with Autism for competitive employment based on their unique abilities. While these hiring practices are a new development in the corporate world, the research, which incorporated 80 study participants aged 18 – 70, indicates that leveraging Preferred Interests is a central component for employment success. According to the data, 86 percent of participants currently have a job or are in an educational or training program that incorporates their preferred interests.
Closing the Gap – Placing Preferred Interests in the Center of Transition Planning
The study has major implications for the classroom. Participants noted that 53 percent of parents, but only 10 percent of teachers, were “supportive of their interests.” With limited resources and many IEPs, developing curriculum for the specific preferred interests of each student is a tall order for teachers. A great resource to help teachers quickly innovate in this area and empower their students to pursue their Preferred Interests is the new Project Discovery Adapted Series. This curriculum contains the key elements for success: a wide variety of careers to explore, video modeling supports, and evidencebasad practices that increase engagement and reduce anxiety for students with Autism. Now Preferred Interests can lead to employment strength – and that is cause to celebrate!