In recent decades, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of employment in the rehabilitation of people with disabilities, including high functioning individuals on the autism spectrum. The Service for the Care of People with Autism and PDD at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services (MOSAS) is implementing a pilot program designed to help integrate people with Asperger’s Syndrome and high functioning autism into the open labor market. The program is implemented through the Beit Eckstein organization in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem.
At the time when the study was conducted, the program model included several stages: 1. A training workshop imparting soft skills and interpersonal communication skills; 2. Unpaid work experience; 3. Assistance with job search and placement.
The Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute was asked to conduct a qualitative evaluation in order to identify factors contributing to or impeding the success of the program, as a basis for its ongoing improvement. The study included semi-structured in-depth interviews with 33 participants who joined the program in 2008. There were also interviews with parents of the participants, employers, and key professionals at MOSAS and Beit Eckstein. Interviews were conducted with each participant at three points in time between 2008 and 2011. The report focuses on the general findings from the interviews and presents four case studies in depth.
The study examined key aspects of the program’s implementation including: the needs of the target population; the staff; the training workshop and unpaid work experience, the difficulties encountered and the strategies developed to address them. It examined a number of client outcomes: employment and improvements in other aspects of the participants’ lives such as independence and social involvement. The participants were asked about their overall satisfaction with the program, how they perceived its benefits and their suggestions for improvement.
Two years after the participants joined the program it was found that:
Most of the participants were employed in the open market and only a few were in sheltered workshops. Two participants were studying or in vocational training.
It was found that emotional problems were the main barrier among those who were not working in the open market. Other difficulties specifically associated with autism and Asperger’s Syndrome were reported to be less significant.
The findings demonstrate the employment potential of people with high functioning autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. The study brought out the challenges that they face and the ways in which the program helped to overcome them. The study findings were discussed with the program directors at Beit Eckstein and the heads of the Service for the Care of People with Autism and PDD at MOSAS.
The study was initiated by and funded by the Service for the Care of People with Autism and PDD at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Services.
Citing suggestion: Jarrar Basheer, R., Rivkin, D., & Loeff, Y. (2014). Employment of People with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome: Evaluation of the Pilot Program at Beit Eckstein. RR-660-14. Myers-JDC-Brookdale Institute. (Hebrew)