Human simulation training program helps adults with autism succeed in interviews

Rebecca Savransky, Campus Editor

A new human simulation training program can help individuals with autism excel in job interviews, according to a Northwestern Medicine Study. 

The study, published Thursday May 8, in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, detailed the program which was initially developed for adults who suffer with psychiatric disorders but has also been tested on individuals with autism.

“Adults with an autism spectrum disorder tend to have difficulties with social communication, which may interfere with them having a successful job interview,” said lead study author Matthew J. Smith, a research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine, in a news release. “Our program helps trainees learn to talk about their ability to work as a team member so they sound easy to work with. They also learn how to sound interested and enthusiastic about a potential job, as well as convey that they are a hard worker.”

Currently, individuals on the autism spectrum have a very low employment rate, with only 33 percent of young adults with autism holding a job in 2009.

The study tested an Internet-based training program that gives individuals repeated opportunities to practice interviewing skills with a virtual human resources staff member. 

“We hope that this training program can improve the employment potential for persons with autism spectrum disorder,” said Dr. Michael Fleming, the senior author of the study and a Feinberg professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, in a news release. “Many people with this disorder would like to work but have trouble getting a job.”

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