Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis InternationalĀ® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

Previous Page


Symposium #155
CE Offered: BACB
Enhancing Vocational Access and Leisure Activities for Adolescents and Adults With Developmental Disabilities
Sunday, May 28, 2023
9:00 AM–10:50 AM
Convention Center Mile High Ballroom 2A
Area: DDA/AUT; Domain: Translational
Chair: Sally Grabert Guidry (Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development Ochsner Hospital for Children )
Discussant: Dorothea C. Lerman (University of Houston-Clear Lake)
CE Instructor: Nicole M. Trosclair-Lasserre, Ph.D.

Research suggests that post-secondary vocational and independent living outcomes for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) significantly lacks behind others without identified disabilities. Rates of competitive employment remain low, with unemployment and underemployment contributing to increased poverty and decreased community access and overall quality of life. The current symposium explores service delivery models that can help to improve long-term outcomes for this population. The first presentation explores guidelines for building and establishing quality relationships with prospective employers within the community. The second presentation then outlines how a large hospital system has begun to support the IDD community through workforce diversity by developing individual and systemic systems of support. The remaining presentations highlight two research studies related to the assessment of various factors shown to be related to positive vocational and life outcomes for adults with IDD. The third presentation compares indirect and direct vocational assessments that can help with vocational matching. The fourth presentation presents data that extends these direct preference assessment procedures to leisure activities for adults, which can help facilitate participation in community activities. The symposium will conclude with remarks from our discussant.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Target Audience:

Behavior Analysts who work with adolescents or adults with autism or other developmental disabilities. Attendees should posses intermediate knowledge of behavior analytic principles and applied behavior analytic intervention procedures.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) Apply learned guidelines for finding and developing lasting relationships with local community partners (2) Describe the application of direct assessments and behavior-based supports for increasing access to competitive employment within a large organization (3) Describe how to incorporate preference and choice into the process of finding new leisure activities for clients

Community Partnerships: A Model for Cultivating Lasting Relationships With Employers

(Service Delivery)
SOPIA SOM (Virginia Institute of Autism), Kate Gariepy (Virginia Institute of Autism), Lauren Haskins (Virginia Institute of Autism)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may often encounter difficulties with obtaining and maintaining employment. To increase the likelihood of successful employment, researchers have investigated ways to make employees with ASD more successful in the workplace, such as through identifying preferred work tasks (LaRue et al., 2020). Researchers have also developed different methods of teaching interview (Roberts et al., 2021) and job-related social skills (Grob et al., 2019; Lerman et al., 2017). These studies have provided evidence that employees with ASD diagnoses can learn to successfully navigate the social work environment in controlled, clinical environments. However, the effectiveness and long-term outcomes of these training programs may be more readily assessed through direct, on-the-job observations and coaching. To that end, establishing positive, collaborative relationships with community partners is an important part of teaching employees with ASD to succeed at work. One of the first steps in this collaboration may be to identify the behaviors or challenges that employers may perceive as barriers to employing people with ASD. To address employers’ concerns, we propose a model and offer guidelines on how to establish and build relationships with community partners and employers.


Increasing Workforce Diversity: Supporting Neurodiverse Employees and Their Managers

(Service Delivery)
NICOLE M. TROSCLAIR-LASSERRE (Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development Ochsner Hospital for Children ), LeighAnn Milinich (Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development Ochsner Hospital for Children ), Lacey Ellis (Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development Ochsner Hospital for Children ), Sally Grabert Guidry (Michael R. Boh Center for Child Development Ochsner Hospital for Children)

Research on competitive employment for individuals with disabilities continues to show that this group has difficulty obtaining and maintaining jobs. Correlational studies have identified several modifiable predictors of post-secondary employment including paid work experience while in high school, parental expectations, self-help and social skills (including communication), and engagement in extra-curricular and community activities. Recent behavior analytic research has expanded behavioral technology to the direct assessment and remediation of vocationally related skills and provides effective methods to address the modifiable predictors of post-secondary employment. The current presentation outlines a program developed to support increased workforce diversity and access to competitive employment for neurodiverse individuals within our system. First, we use behavior analytic strategies to directly assess vocational social skills to identify areas of support needs, to teach skills deficits, and to recommend support strategies to prospective employers. Second, we provide an internal manager/employer training program to address identified barriers to hiring individuals with disabilities, to educate them on neurodiverse diagnoses, and to teach them ways to support neurodiverse employees. Finally, we will provide a case review of one participant’s path from direct behavioral assessment to paid internship and how this can further refine our internal pathway to competitive employment.


Using Indirect and Direct Vocational Assessments to Improve Employment Matching for Individuals With Autism

(Service Delivery)
JENNA BUDGE (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University), James Maraventano (Rutgers University), Todd Frischmann (Rutgers University), SungWoo Kahng (Rutgers University)

Employment rates for adults with autism are significantly lower than those reported for any other population of adults with disabilities (Bush & Tassé, 2017). One of the most significant predictors of competitive employment for adults with autism is the use of sound assessment procedures to inform intervention (Kaya et al., 2016). LaRue and colleagues (2019) developed a skill-based vocational assessment for individuals with autism with varying abilities. The assessment evaluated preference for specific task characteristics. The authors used the assessment results to design matched and unmatched work tasks. They found that matched tasks were consistently more preferred and resulted in less disruptive behavior and more on task behavior. This assessment is useful for the purpose of modifying jobs, however it does not inform the type of industry to explore when job matching. In the current investigation, we used an extension of the assessment model proposed by LaRue and colleagues that includes environmental factors. We then compared the results of the vocational assessment to indirect methods. Preliminary data suggest that the using both the brief, skill-based vocational assessment in addition to an indirect methods may inform tasks and jobs that lead to better employment outcomes for adolescents and adults with autism.


Assessing Preference for and Engagement With Leisure Activities for Adults With Autism Spectrum Disorder

(Applied Research)
ROBERT W. ISENHOWER (Rider University ), Jenna Budge (Rutgers University), James Maraventano (Rutgers University), Robert LaRue (Rutgers University)

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often have limited opportunity in choosing novel and engaging leisure activities, and behavior analysts need guidance in identifying and predicting which leisure activities their clients prefer. Three adults participated in a leisure activities assessment in three phases. During Phase 1, concurrent arrangements were used to develop a profile for each of three leisure skills components: social interaction versus no interaction; electronic versus non-electronic activities; and stationary activities versus activities that require movement. Clear preferences were found for all three participants. Phase 2 compared on-task behavior for a leisure activity matched and a leisure activity unmatched to the profile generated in Phase 1. In general, participants were on-task more often for activities matched to profile. Phase 3 assessed client preference for the matched versus the unmatched leisure activity using another concurrent arrangement. Participants preferred the matched activity. Overall, this study presents a user-friendly leisure activity assessment that considers client preference when determining suitable leisure activities for individuals with ASD who require significant support.




Back to Top
Modifed by Eddie Soh