Soft Skills for Success for Job Seekers with Autism Spectrum Disorder
January 18, 2023
Direct Skills Teaching (DST) is a method for distilling a skill into digestible components for ease of teaching and learning of a new skill. Job retention is a complex phenomenon requiring numerous social competencies that include verbal and non-verbal fluency among others. Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) often struggle with social communication and therefore are at a disadvantage in employment settings; even when otherwise qualified for the position.
OBJECTIVE: This preliminary pilot study tested the feasibility of a DST group intervention to assist individuals with ASD with work-related soft skills, with a particular focus on informal conversational skills.
METHODS: Eight master’s level Rehabilitation Counseling students facilitated groups of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder seeking employment. Student facilitators followed the Conversing with Others manualized curriculum, designed to teach workplace based informal conversational soft-skills. Participant feedback was sought both pre and post intervention, and student facilitators recorded their observations of each group session.
RESULTS: The initial findings support the feasibility of soft-skills training for work-related conversational skills teaching for job seekers with ASD. The results also supported the need for significant adjustments to the intervention as well as any future studies of the small group intervention Conversing with Others.
CONCLUSIONS: Workplace conversational skills can be facilitated in a small group setting. Master’s level counselors-in-training, were able to follow a manualized DST soft-skills small group.
Presenter(s): Samantha Herrick
Dr. Janice Oursler, Program Direction, Rehabilitation Counseling Master's program, Rutgers University
Dr. Weili Lu, Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation Counseling at Rutgers University.
John Beninato - Mental Health Counselor, Private Practice
Sharon Gbadamosi, Accessibility Specialist, Rutgers University