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Sunday, January 21, 2024

Employment Profiles

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the employment of adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Autistic adults experience difficulties finding and keeping employment. However, research investigating reasons that might explain this difficulty produce mixed results. We gave a survey to 2449 autistic adults and used a statistic method to group them based on their employment status over 8 years. We identified four employment groups that best captured the experiences of autistic adults; this included a group that experienced stable unemployment, a group that experienced stable employment, a group that had high employment that reduced over time, and a group whose employment increased over the 8 years. Further analysis showed that those with fewer autistic traits, younger age, male gender, higher education, later diagnosis age and no co-occurring conditions were more likely to have stable employment. People whose employment changed over time were more likely to have a higher level of education than the stable unemployment group, and those in the increasing employment group were younger age and had no co-occurring conditions. These findings help us better understand that not all autistic adults’ experiences of employment are the same, which helps focus where employment programmes and support may be most needed, for example, people who identify as women or have a co-occurring condition.
From the article:
The participant’s highest level of educational attainment was the most consistent indicator differentiating individuals with some employment from the unemployed class. However, the likelihood of being in the employed class and the increasing employment class were higher than reducing employment class. Consistent with research in other autism studies (Alverson & Yamamoto, 2017; Chiang et al., 2013; Ohl et al., 2017), and disability populations (Saunders et al., 2006), our findings with an autistic sample support a positive association between gaining employment and one’s education level. It is important to note, however, that autistic people experience high dropout rates and challenges in higher education (Flower, Richdale, & Lawson, 2021; Nuske et al., 2019), with lower rates of university and vocational education completion than the general population and other disability groups (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2019). This might suggest that factors associated with challenges attending or completing post-secondary education might also underpin challenges gaining employment. Our findings highlight the importance of education in gaining and maintaining stable employment and present a potential avenue and venue for supporting transition age autistic people.