Importance: Youth with intellectual disabilities (ID) have persistently poor work outcomes. Occupational therapy can support school-to-work transition but is underrepresented in transition practice.
Objective: To identify and describe interventions within the scope of occupational therapy for youth with ID who are transitioning from school to work.
Data Sources: MEDLINE, ERIC, PsycINFO, and CINAHL were searched, and hand searching was performed in relevant peer-reviewed journals.
Study Selection and Data Collection: Included were peer-reviewed, English-language articles published from 2004 to 2017 describing studies focused on youth with ID with no significant co-occurring physical diagnoses who were transitioning from U.S.-based school settings to paid employment. Data extraction was managed using Google Drive. Data were organized on extraction sheets by trained reviewers. The quality of each study was assessed using questions adapted from the Critical Appraisal Skills Program checklist.
Findings: A total of 35 articles were included, 7 of which used randomized controlled designs. All articles described interventions aligned with the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (3rd ed.), but specific mention of occupational therapy was notably absent from the literature. Interventions had little and generally low-level evidence supporting their use.
Conclusions and Relevance: Significant and concerning gaps exist in the literature on school-to-work transition for youth with ID, likely impeding evidence-based practice. No included article mentioned occupational therapy or had a contributor who was an occupational therapy practitioner. Practitioners should advocate for occupational therapy’s role in transition and contribute reports of occupational therapy transition services for youth with ID to the literature.
What This Article Adds: This study demonstrates that occupational therapy is poorly represented in literature describing transition services for youth with ID. Although the articles described interventions within the occupational therapy domain, these interventions were not provided by occupational therapy practitioners and did not have a strong evidence base.