Giving Compass' Take:

• Kim Ward explains that the Assistive Soft Skills and Employment Training program (ASSET) helps young adults with autism learn soft skills for more employment opportunities. 

• The program found the participants showed noticeable improvements in social cognition, social function, and social confidence. How can donors help support these types of programs that show impact?

• Read about how some educators are using Minecraft to teach students with autism.

A training program helps young people with autism spectrum disorder build soft skills for the workplace, research shows.

Ninety percent of those with disabilities lose their jobs due to the lack of soft skills, cites Connie Sung, associate professor of rehabilitation counseling at Michigan State University’s College of Education in a paper in the journal Autism.

This is because most training focuses on teaching young children with ASD to interact with school peers and family. But that training doesn’t translate to the workplace, which is why Sung developed the Assistive Soft Skills and Employment Training program, or ASSET.

ASSET teaches young adults with ASD the skills needed to get and keep jobs as they transition from high school and college to adulthood. Every year approximately 50,000 of these “transition youth” become ready to enter the workplace and gain independence and self-esteem that comes from successfully holding down a job.

“Young adults with autism deserve the opportunity to be taught work-related social skills so they can be successful and live to fulfil, happy lives,” Sung says. “Helping these people become employed and independent becomes increasingly important since the CDC reports the prevalence of ASD affects 1 in 59 people.”

Sung’s research proves the training helps considerably. For the second study, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, participants had eight weeks of ASSET training. At the end of the period, the young adults with ASD showed significant improvements in social cognition, social function, and social confidence.

“ASSET gives these young adults a toolbox that boosts their confidence and significantly increases their chances of success,” Sung says. “They learn to focus on what they are good at, which helps their overall psychological wellness. These people have been underserved and neglected when it comes to training and support so I’m glad we’re finally working to help them.”

Read the full article about soft skills for individuals with autism by Kim Ward at Futurity.