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Technique to help autistic people impress employers


New York, May 8 :

Individuals with an autism spectrum disorder can brighten their chances of bagging a job now. A new simulated training technique teaches them how to develop rapport and impress the interviewer.

Adults with an autism spectrum disorder, who may have trouble talking about themselves and interacting socially, do not always make good impressions in job interviews and have low employment rates.

“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 from Northwestern University.

A new human simulation training programme – based on software originally used to train FBI agents – helps adults with autism improve their job interview skills and confidence, the new Northwestern Medicine study reported.

“Our programme 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,” said Smith, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences.

“We hope that this training programme can improve the employment potential for persons with autism spectrum disorder,” added senior study author Michael Fleming, a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

The trial included 16 individuals, aged 18 to 31, who received the job interview simulation training and 10 in the control group who did not.

Those in the training group each practiced 15 to 20 job interviews with the virtual reality training.

Trainees receive a score at the end of each interview with scores of 90 or better informing them that, “You’ve got the job!”

The study has been published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.