Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Baldwin, S., Costley, D., & Warren, A. (2014). Employment activities and experiences of adults with high-functioning autism and Asperger's disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44 (10), 2440-2449.
Title:  Employment activities and experiences of adults with high-functioning autism and Asperger's disorder
Authors:  Baldwin, S., Costley, D., & Warren, A.
Year:  2014
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders
Publisher:  Springer International Publishing AG
Full text:    |   PDF   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  No

Structured abstract:

Background:  It is evidenced that adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are experiencing difficulties obtaining and maintaining jobs due to specific challenges including lower intellectual capacity, lack of social skills, and having hard time following routines at workplace. It is also empirically documented that adults with ASD possess specific job skills and often exhibit many exemplary characteristics. Previous research mostly have been focused on the whole spectrum including individuals with and without intellectual disability (ID). Data pertaining employment for “high functioning” individuals are more sparse.
Purpose:  The aim of the current study was to provide a detailed overview of the occupational activities and experiences of a large sample of adults (n = 130) who have an autism spectrum disorder with no co-occurring ID. It explores, for the reference group, the following factors: type of occupation; occupational skill level and overeducation (discussed further below); type of job contract; hours of work; past, present and future job- seeking support needs; support received in the workplace; and positive and negative experiences of employment.
Study sample:  Participants are from subsample We Belong study conducted by the authors (Autism Spectrum Australia 2013). There were 130 Australian adults with Asperger’s Disorder and high functioning autism who satisfied the following criteria: (1) had a paid job at the time of completing the survey; (2) were not in full-time education at the time of completing the survey; (3) reported that they had a professional diagnosis of ASD.
Control or comparison condition:  Comparisons are drawn between aspects of the study findings and related data from other sources, particularly the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The aim of these comparisons is to highlight characteristics of the employed, high functioning ASD population that may broadly resemble, or differ from, the Australian workforce as a whole.
Data collection and analysis:  Participants’ occupational profile data were collected through survey, including information on current occupation, occupational skill level and alignment with educational attainment, type of job contract, hours of work, support received to find work, support receive in the workplace, and positive and negative experiences of employment. Proportions of survey answers were calculated and categorized according to Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) system.
Findings:  The highest proportions of participants were found in the groups Clerical and Administrative Workers, Laborers, and Professional; the majority of participants were distributed between jobs at skill levels 1, 4 and 5, and 32 % of study participants were working on a casual basis at the time of the survey. In terms of vocational assistance, fewer than half (41 %) of participants indicated that they had received any kind of assistance or support to get their current job, and over half (54 %) of participants indicated a need for some level of support to help them find a (new) job, either presently or in the future. Almost three quarters (72 %) of participants stated that they were not currently receiving any specific support at work for difficulties associated with their ASD, and 66 % of the participants indicated that they would like to receive more support at work related to their ASD. Participants recorded a total of 347 positive comments (‘best things’) and 309 negative comments (‘worst things’) relating to their past and present employment experiences.
Conclusions:  The findings confirm and expand upon existing evidence that adults with AD and High Functioning Autism, despite their capacity and willingness to work, face significant disadvantages in the labor market and a lack of understanding and support in employment settings.

Disabilities served:  Autism / ASD
Populations served:  Adjudicated adults and youth
Outcomes:  Self-employment
Full-time employment
Part-time employment