Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disorder that affects every individual to a different degree. It is a lifelong complex developmental disorder, characterized by impairments in social communication, social interaction and social imagination (Wing & Gould, 1979). Representing an estimated 7 million people, ASD is labeled as the fastest-growing disorder with an annual growth rate of 10-17%, according to the Autism Society. The condition impacts how a person perceives the world and interacts with others, making it difficult for them to pick up social cues and interpret them. Therefore, social interactions can be difficult as they can have difficulty ‘reading’ other people and expressing their own emotions. However, people with ASD are often very thorough in their work, punctual and rule observant. Despite that, the current employment data for individuals with ASD are not encouraging, as they suggest that they are less likely to work than all other disability groups(Newman et al., 2009). Many individuals with ASD, even those with the most severe challenges, express an interest in working (Target & Wehman, 2009).In fact, young adults with ASD report that finding a job would improve their lives more than anything else (Barnard, Harvey, Potter, & Prior, 2001). When they have the dignity of gainful employment, they can contribute to essentials like housing, food, clothing and the supports and services needed in their lives. Therefore, people with ASD need instruction in developing soft skills focusing on one hand on skills involving job search skills (i.e. CV preparation, job interview skills, dress code, etc), and skills related to functional skills to survive and succeed in the labor sector (i.e. social and communication skills, building positive relationships and networking with colleagues, etc. Therefore, this project aims:
-to design, test and publish an innovative training package for educators that will guide and support them to teach young adults with ASD the soft skills needed to enter and succeed in the workplace
– deliver training courses to directly train young adults with ASD in a set of soft skills and, also, to deliver these courses to a target group of educators, in order to amplify and perpetuate the ripple effect of those courses.
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