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Study finds ways to teach employees with Down syndrome

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Lisa Sinclair
Lisa Sinclair

A University of Canterbury (UC) study is using video modelling and video self-modelling to help teach job skills to prospective employees with Down syndrome.

People with Down syndrome contribute well in a number of job settings when given appropriate initial support. Despite this recruitment is low at around 10 percent.

Research shows that people with Down syndrome who are in paid employment have higher adaptive, physical, cognitive and social abilities and a higher quality of life than those people with Down syndrome who are not in employment.

UC health sciences masters student Lisa Sinclair says there are many reasons why people with Down syndrome are not in employment.

Extra support is initially needed for job success, such as employers giving clear and timely instructions and breaking down work tasks into smaller steps.

Down syndrome is a lifelong disorder, however, with intervention, people with Down syndrome can be trained to acquire many skills and can lead very successful lives.

A training method that shows promise in training people with Down syndrome is video modelling where a person watches a video of a peer or instructor performing a task and then models what they have seen in the video in their workplace. Four the participants in this study watched videos of peers making breakfast.

This study is the first in New Zealand to use video modelling and video self-modelling alone to teach job skills to people with Down syndrome.

For the work experience section of the study, eight participants spent a term at Wharenui Primary School in Christchurch serving breakfast to students as part of a Fonterra/Sanitarium breakfast in schools programme. The participants worked in pairs and spent two weeks serving breakfast each morning.

Last year, the Government announced the Breakfast in Schools Programme would be available to all schools which opened the way for people with disabilities to work in schools as breakfast providers.

My results showed an increase of rate of skill acquisition across all participants (at least 25 percent for each) from baseline to post-intervention, showing that the methods of video modelling and video-self modelling were both effective job skill training methods. The participants also reported that they enjoyed watching the videos and working in the school.

My results suggest that employers could make job training videos by video-taping their current staff on the job. They could then provide the tapes to employment transition services who work with people with intellectual disabilities.

It is important that research of this type is done to empower people with intellectual disability,’’ Sinclair says.

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