What does ’employment’ mean when assessing access for adults with autism?

    A reader had a question following a report from WHYY’s Maiken Scott about a survey pointing to gaps in services for adults in Pennsylvania living with autism, particularly in areas of employment.

    WHYY’s Maiken Scott reported on a new study, released by Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Autism Services in the Department of Public Welfare, that tried to find out more about access to care, the age of diagnosis, and barriers to employment and independent living for adults with autism.

    The survey’s findings point to many gaps in services, particularly in areas of employment. Read the full report.

    Joe, a NewsWorks reader, asked for some specifics about the study.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    How was the term “employment” defined in the survey? Sadly, I’ve seen surveys where employment included volunteering and/or work at sheltered workshops where piece work based compensation is far below minimum wage.

    Unfortunately, the survey does not specify the kind of employment respondents had. It asked them only if they were employed, and to specify if the work was full time or part time, with assistance or without.

    If we had an answer to Joe’s question, it would shed further light on how to understand the results of the study. Possibly it would call into question the methods of the survey, or the fairness of employment practices.

    Do you have any experience with the subject of studies like this? Are they measuring the right thing? Tell us about it below.

    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal