Research Study Finds Wide Gaps in Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Services such as vocational rehabilitation have become essential young people with autism and other neurodiverse disorders. New research from the A.J. Drexel Autism Institute of Drexel University, have found that young adults actually have little support because vocation rehabilitation services vary so much across states. Unemployment is highest with those that have neurodiversity, so opportunities such as vocational rehabilitation services are critical.

Vocational Evaluation services are designed to help individuals explore work interests, determine aptitudes and skills, and formulate career plans. A Vocational Evaluation is an individualized, timely, and systematic process by which a person seeking employment, with an evaluator, learns to identify and develop employment goals. A Vocational Evaluation utilizes work, either real or simulated, as the focal point for the assessment. In addition, it incorporates medical, psychological, social, cultural, and economic data as well as vocational exploration into the process for the sole purpose of assisting individuals with developing their vocational pursuits.

A study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, analyzed Vocational Rehabilitation data from the U.S. Department of Education to explore differences across states in how often youth with autism actually receive Vocational Rehabilitation services after being found eligible; how many begin these services as early as possible (during secondary school); how often youths’ plans for employment services are established in a timely manner and the rate at which students achieve employment following these services.

Some of the results included:

90 percent of eligible youth in Pennsylvania received vocational rehabilitation services, compared to 50% of eligible youth in New Jersey, and 10% in Montana.

There were large gaps in how often the plans for employment were developed within the recommended federal timeline, and how many youth with autism were actually employed when the services ended. 29 percent of youth with autism were employed in DC, whereas 76 percent were employed in Washington state. At least 70 percent of youth with autism had jobs following vocational rehabilitation services in four states: Alabama, Nebraska, South Dakota and Washington.

Read the full study here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-018-3793-5

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