Project Summary: Employment has been defined as a right, such that people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and/or intellectual disability (ID) are provided with the opportunity to gain meaningful employment and vocational training. Employment is a socially normative activity that often defines adulthood and is critical to individuals’ well-being and quality of life. Strong desires of being employed among this population have been realized during my previous research and practice. However, having life-span difficulties in social skills, as well as the great variability in severity and clinical picture prevents individuals with ASD/ID from being fully involved in employment activities. Particularly, the high unemployment and underemployment rates highlight the need for vocational preparation and employment supports before, during, and beyond secondary school. Service systems and stakeholders together with researchers should focus more concerted and coordinated efforts on promoting employment and social skills with the essential supports required to find success in the workplace. This proposal will incorporate this collaborative effort within a job-related social skills training being conducted in the U.S. and extend them into Irish population under the ASSISTID fellowship. As such, a collaborative model between multiple community partners to support adults with ASD/ID in employment will be employed. This project, ASSET (Assistive Social Skills and Employment Training), is an all-in-one training and will prepare participants with basic job-related social skills, and then guide them to apply the integrated skills in an internship. Participants will be exposed to technology via video modelling throughout the training program and internship to assist them in completing job-related tasks.
Bio: Keeley White completed her PhD in School/Applied Child Psychology at McGill University in 2016. She has been funded at both the provincial and national level in Canada for her master’s and doctoral research and has received 15 other research awards from organizations and universities alike. Further, she was one of 14 people in Canada awarded an Autism Research Training Program Scholarship for 2014-2016. Her PhD dissertation highlighted the importance of self-determination for young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) across Canada. Prior to her PhD, she completed her undergraduate degree in honours psychology at Concordia University and her master’s degree in applied disability studies (with a specialization in applied behaviour analysis) at Brock University. She has collaborated on a number of research projects emphasizing community involvement, mental health, outcomes of deinstitutionalization, physical health, rights-based education, behaviour challenges, employment, social inclusion and self-determination, and the effectiveness of various interventions in promoting the betterment of lives of people with ASD and/or intellectual disabilities (ID). Together with her research pursuits, she has worked as a clinical psychologist in school, hospital, and community settings with a specialized interest in serving the needs of individuals with ASD and/or ID across the lifespan.