Evaluation of two instruction methods to increase employment options for young adults with autism spectrum disorders

Raymond V. Burke, Melissa N. Andersen, Scott L. Bowen, Monica R. Howard, Keith D. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


We evaluated the efficacy of a vocational training program including behavioral skills training, and a "performance cue system" (i.e., a proprietary iPhone application adapted for the study) to teach targeted social-vocational skills to six young adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. In two separate studies, participants were employed to assist in the delivery of a fire safety education program. Participants were asked to wear an inflatable firefighter WalkAround® mascot costume and to perform 63 scripted behaviors in coordination with a fire prevention specialist who was the lead program presenter. In Study 1, three participants were initially exposed to established company training procedures comprised of behavioral skills training components to determine whether they met mastery of the skills. If necessary to reach criteria, participants were then exposed to a performance cue system. In Study 2, three additional participants were provided with the performance cue system alone, and then behavioral skills training if required. A single case, multiple-baseline design across subjects was used to evaluate efficacy of each intervention. Results indicate that 5 of 6 participants reached criterion only after introduction of the cue system while the sixth reached criterion with behavioral skills training alone. The program received high satisfaction ratings from participants, their parents, and consumers. Implications and potential use of the PCS in other employment settings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1223-1233
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Assistive technology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Community-based vocational training
  • Employment outcomes
  • Personal digital assistants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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