Supported Employment and Autism Ranking: Limited positive evidence

Aims and Claims


Supported employment schemes for people with disabilities may have a number of different aims. For example, according to O’Bryan et al (2000),

“A key assumption underlying the specialist sector's approach to supported employment is that the workplace is the best place to learn a job. As a matter of principle, it starts from the assumption that all disabled people may wish to access paid work, and that no individual or group should be seen as 'unemployable'. It is concerned with addressing some of the social, attitudinal, policy and practice barriers that exclude groups from paid work.

“The approach also attempts to set paid work in its wider social context. It is concerned with inclusion, in terms of both economic and social participation; it is meant to be about 'real' jobs in ordinary (unsegregated) workplaces.”


There have been various claims made for supported employment. For example

  • Hillier A. et al. (2007) reported. "Increases in employment rates and income were found for program participants, and 7 participants retained their initial job placements through the 2-year period. Employers rated program participants highly on a range of important job skills, although these individuals continued to experience social challenges in the workplace. .... Overall, the results suggest that individuals on the autism spectrum can be successful in competitive, entry-level employment."
  • Howlin, Alcock and Burkin (2005) reported. "Individuals supported by Prospects show a rise in salaries, contribute more tax and claim fewer benefits. Satisfaction with the scheme is high among clients, employers and support workers. Moreover, there are many non-financial benefits, which are difficult to quantify."
  • Keel, Mesibov and Woods (1997) reported. "Division TEACCH has served over 100 persons through its program placing 96 of them in jobs across the state. A retention rate of 89% demonstrates the success of the program which is due in large part to the broad array of long-term support services provided to each person based on individual needs."
17 Jun 2022
Last Review
01 Aug 2017
Next Review
01 Oct 2023