It can be a giant step toward greater independence when young people with intellectual and developmental disabilities find employment.
Matching people with right employment – jobs where they can thrive — is an important part of the answer. Helping them commute successfully to work by themselves is another. Dr. Beth Pfeiffer, a researcher in Temple University College of Public Health’s Collaborative on Community Inclusion, has been exploring both of these ways to improve the successful employment for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.
Dr. Pfeiffer recently began a project funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR) to test the effectiveness of a peer-support intervention in which individuals with ASD teach others to travel more independently.
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities often rely on others for rides or use paratransit service, which doesn’t run as regularly as public buses. Many can use public transportation once they get the hang of it. Dr. Pfeiffer and her team partnered with the Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN), that provides education and social opportunities for young adults with disabilities.
Researchers trained two young adults with ASD to mentor young adult members of PIN. The mentors provide one-on-one travel training — then take them out for practice and experience in real situations. As peers, the mentors can talk about their own experiences while offering the lessons.
“That’s not something that I can bring to the table,” Dr. Pfeiffer says. “We found that when they were able to share those experiences, our interventions were much better.”
Read more about the projects.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on August 09