The employment outcomes for young adults with autism or intellectual disability (ID) lag far behind those of their peers without disabilities. Most postsecondary education programs for students with disabilities incorporate internship experiences to foster employment skills. However, the proximity of job coaches may inadvertently hinder social opportunities and independence. We used a multiple-probe, single-case experimental design across three college students with autism or ID to examine the effects of a coaching package on task engagement and social interactions. For all participants, interactions increased and task engagement maintained when job coaches reduced proximity and delivered prompts discreetly through bug-in-ear devices. articipants considered the intervention beneficial and unobtrusive. We present implications for supporting employment preparation within postsecondary education programs.From the article:
An important aspect of effective coaching is fading proximity and supports as individuals become more fluent and independent in their tasks. Covert audio coaching (CAC), also referred to as audio cuing, has demonstrated success for students and young adults with ID or autism. This method allows job coaches to deliver feedback to students privately and immediately through a bug-in-ear device (i.e., a two-way radio with an earbud speaker attached) without the need to be in close and constant proximity. Students receive coaching prompts in a more discreet way that fosters greater independence.
[J]ob coaches should prioritize promoting social interactions with others in the workplace, especially if social awareness and conversational skills are challenges for the students whom they support. While many vocational tasks are specific to the job itself, social skills are transferable to other workplace settings and daily encounters. [All] of the stakeholders in our study reported the value and felt the positive impact when interns seemed more socially integrated at work. This offers an important reminder to coworkers of students with autism or ID to initiate social interactions and encourage others to do the same.