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Computer program could help autism sufferers with job interviews

Autism spectrum disorders can vary quite a bit in how big of an impact they have on those who suffer from them. For many adults with autism, their condition does not prevent them from being able to work. 

There are certain aspects of the job application process that can pose particular challenges for autism sufferers who are capable of working. One of these is the job interview. Given that autism can cause a person to have trouble with social communication, one could see how autism sufferers could experience difficulties when it comes to interviews.

A recent study indicates that a computer program may be able to help autism sufferers when it comes to improving interviewing skills. The program in question is an interview simulator in which a person is asked questions by a virtual interviewer. The program tracks and assesses the person's responses to the interview questions, gives on-screen feedback and tips to the person and, at the end of the simulated interview, gives the person a score.

At the start of the study, researchers had 26 young adults with autism go through two mock job interviews in which the interviewer was an actor. Sixteen of these autism sufferers then went through 15 to 20 simulated interviews using the above-mentioned computer program. The other 10 did not use the program. Researchers then had all 26 individuals go through two additional actor-conducted mock interviews and looked at whether the individuals made any improvements from the first two interviews.

The researchers found that the individuals who used the computer program showed a greater amount of improvement when it came to their interviewing skills than those who didn't use the program. Those who used the program showed an 11 percent overall improvement and a 22 percent improvement when it came to self-confidence. Those who didn't use the program showed only a 1 percent overall improvement and a 7 percent improvement when it came to self-confidence.

The study's findings are encouraging, given how big of an impact interview struggles can have on a person's ability to find a job.

Now, for some people on the autism spectrum, their autism is so severe that working is an impossibility. Disability benefits, like benefits from the Supplemental Security Income program, are one source of financial help that such individuals may have available to them.

Source: Disability Scoop, "Job Training Goes High-Tech For People With Autism," Shaun Heasley, May 9, 2014

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