Specialised therapy can help improve employment chances of adults with autism

There is new research to show that a certain type of therapy that uses computer-based exercises and small group sessions can help adults with autism in a significant way, perhaps boosting their chances of employment.

Called cognitive enhancement therapy, the approach helps those on the spectrum increase their attention and process information more quickly. For some participants, that has translated into finding jobs.

Autism can be more challenging for adults because the challenges are more complicated for them. Children with autism have more support networks like special education that does not exist for adults.

The study looked at two methods - cognitive enhancement therapy and enriched supportive therapy.

The group in the cognitive enhancement therapy group spent three hours each week doing computer exercises to improve attention, memory and problem solving before moving on to small group sessions where people learned to understand others’ perspectives and handle social interactions.

The group which went for enriched supportive therapy took part in weekly hourlong sessions where people were taught one-on-one how to manage emotions and stress, deal with problems and improve their social skills.

Both groups saw gains in cognitive function, but those who took part in enriched supportive therapy sessions showed more improvement. They were also more likely to gain competitive employment.

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