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Adults with autism virtually learn how to get the job
Date:5/7/2014

CHICAGO --- Adults with an autism spectrum disorder, who may have trouble talking about themselves and interacting socially, don't always make good impressions in job interviews and have low employment rates.

A new human simulation training program -- based on software originally used to train FBI agents -- helps adults with autism improve their job interview skills and confidence, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study.

The new interactive program was designed specifically for adults with psychiatric disorders and was also evaluated for use by adults with autism spectrum disorder. This is the first intervention using human-based simulation that gives these adults repeated practice and feedback on their interviewing skills. The program is now available to the public.

"Adults with an autism spectrum disorder tend to have difficulties with social communication, which may interfere with them having a successful job interview," said lead study author Matthew J. Smith, a research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Our program helps trainees learn to talk about their ability to work as a team member so they sound easy to work with. They also learn how to sound interested and enthusiastic about a potential job, as well as convey that they are a hard worker."

The study will be published May 8 in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

The employment rate for people with autism is very low. In 2009, only 33 percent of young adults with autism had a job. Approximately 50,000 individuals with autism turn 18 each year.

"We hope that this training program can improve the employment potential for persons with autism spectrum disorder," said senior study author Michael Fleming, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Feinberg. "Many people with this disorder would like to work but have trouble getti
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Contact: Marla Paul
marla-paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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