It is widely recognised that many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have abilities and strengths well suited to employment in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry. Despite this, their overall employment rate remains marginal. A recent international survey of ASD experts revealed that 92 per cent of experts perceived that people with ASD had specific strengths and abilities, including attention to detail, a strong sense of morality, trustworthiness, loyalty, and memory. In addition, certain common attributes such as visual perceptual skills, mathematical abilities, memory and attention to detail are specifically well suited to tasks in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry.

Recent studies have proposed that implementing strength-based programs that prepare adolescents with ASD for the workforce could improve their employment outcomes in adulthood. Unfortunately, there is minimal research on what actually constitutes a strength-based program and how these programs should be developed and delivered.

This report embeds current knowledge, as reported in literature, together with data obtained by observations and interviews from three existing strength-based ICT-groups. The aim was to develop guidelines for strength-based ICT programs for adolescents with ASD. In order to enable the provision of recommendations for service providers intending to deliver strength-based programs, this report identifies essential components of an effective, strength-based ICT program. Data analysis identified that while each of the programs employed differing strategies in implementing a strength-based approach, collectively the strategies could be clustered as components crucial in the implementation of autism specific strengthbased ICT programs. The findings indicated three essential areas that service providers should consider when developing and delivering strength-based programs for individuals with ASD; 1) facilitators, 2) activities and 3) environment. This report also provides recommendations for service providers relating to the components to be considered in these areas when developing strength-based ICT-program.

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BCEC Research Report No. 17/18