AN EXPLORATION OF THE VOCATIONAL TRAINING OF PEOPLE WITH AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDER COMPLETING EDUCATIONAL AND TRAINING PROGRAMMES WITHIN VOCATIONAL REHABILITATION SETTINGS IN GREECE
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to contribute to understanding of the issue of unemployment for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by exploring the educational and training process within vocational rehabilitation services in Greece. A clearer image of the factors that may hinder successful employment for people with ASD is also illustrated throughout this study. The study further aims to identify the content of the educational and practical preparation programmes for young adults with ASD in order to access paid employment. Additionally, the perceptions and experiences of the occupational therapists about the suitability, strengths and weaknesses of the educational system for people with ASD are also explored. This employment-related research study aims to achieve a better understanding of the challenges faced by this population in terms of gaining and maintaining a full-time job, based on the experience of occupational therapists within their work environment. Overall, an overview of the educational and training opportunities for people with ASD is provided throughout this study in order to achieve a deeper understanding of their preparation for real working conditions, and explore existing educational processes for young adults with ASD and their employment integration. Finally, it is hoped that this study will raise awareness about the employment issues and efforts of people with ASD, which may be used in correlation with findings from the literature in order to suggest areas for change and development. Methods: This study uses a generic qualitative approach informed by the paradigm of Interpretivism. Four occupational therapists working in three vocational rehabilitation settings in Greece were interviewed in order to gain professional insights of the educational and vocational training process in Greece. Semi structured qualitative interviews were used to gather descriptive data through the personal experiences of the occupational therapists. Thematic analysis was used to create related themes and interpret these patterns in order to explain the outcomes of the research.