Relating What We Are Learning to Research

Using national population survey data, researchers from The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary explored the education, daily needs and labour force participation of adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). They looked at data from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability that surveyed 45,500 Canadians with disabilities and found valuable information about the challenges people with disabilities encounter getting into and remaining in the workforce. Their research is also providing insights that inform policy development.

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Peer Mentor Evolution

Peer mentorship was recognized as an important element in the original design of the Worktopia programs. The concept of using peer mentors who do not have autism to provide support to participants who do, has evolved to include program graduates who have autism.

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Ecosystem Approach to Employment and Autism

Working age individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have the lowest employment rate in Canada at 14.3% in comparison to the general population (92.7%) and other disability groups (45.2%). This significant under-engagement in the labour force demonstrates the need to consider new and innovative approaches to employment to support long-term improved outcomes and overall quality of life.

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The Bigger Picture

In Worktopia, more than 44% of individuals who enrolled in the EmploymentWorks Canada program reported experiencing three or more co-occurring mental health conditions. Challenges posed by these factors may negatively influence employment and engagement in the community.

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Suicide and ASD

Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience higher rates of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts than people in the general population. This highlights a critical but not well recognized issue facing individuals living with ASD, their families, and the professionals and front line staff who engage with the ASD population.

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Goal Setting & Self-Reflection

Goal setting and self-reflection (including self-instruction, self-monitoring and self-reinforcement) are important skills for everyone on their journey to employment. Students with disabilities who leave school with the ability to goal set and self-reflect are twice as likely as their peers who have not learned these skills to be employed one year after graduation (Wehmeyer & Palmer, 2003).

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Going the Distance

Pulling the cord on a bus, hailing a cab, changing platforms at the train station, exiting a traffic circle – these are everyday tasks for some, but for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), they can be significant barriers to gaining employment and participating in their local communities.

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