Washington: A new study has found that more independent work environments may lead to reductions in autism symptoms and improve daily living in adults with the disorder.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined 153 adults with autism and found that greater vocational independence and engagement led to improvements in core features of autism, other problem behaviours and ability to take care of oneself.
"We found that if you put the person with autism in a more independent vocational placement, this led to measurable improvements in their behaviours and daily living skills overall," lead author Julie Lounds Taylor, PhD, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Special Education and Vanderbilt Kennedy Center investigator, said.
"One core value in the disability community and at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is placing people with disabilities in the most inclusive environments possible. In addition, this study gives us evidence that increasing the level of independence in an employment or vocational setting can lead to improvements in autism symptoms and other associated behaviours," the researcher said.
Taylor, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, looked at such autism symptoms as restricted interests, repetitive behaviours, communication impairments and difficulties with social interactions and found the degree of independence in vocational activities was uniquely related to subsequent changes in autism symptoms, other problem behaviours and activities of daily living.
The results provide preliminary evidence that employment may be therapeutic in the development of adults with autism.
Similar to typically developing adults, vocational activities may serve as a mechanism for providing cognitive and social stimulations and enhance well-being and quality of life.
The study is published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.