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Employment Activities and Experiences of Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder

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There is limited large-scale empirical research into the working lives of adults who have an autism spectrum disorder with no co-occurring intellectual disability. Drawing on data from a national survey, this report describes the employment activities and experiences of 130 adults with Asperger’s Disorder (AD) and high functioning autism (HFA) in Australia. Outcome measures include current occupation; occupational skill level and alignment with educational attainment; type of job contract; hours of work; support received to find work; support received in the workplace; and positive and negative experiences of employment. The findings confirm and expand upon existing evidence that adults with AD and HFA, despite their capacity and willingness to work, face significant disadvantages in the labour market and a lack of understanding and support in employment settings.

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  1. These categories correspond to the diagnostic sub-groupings for Pervasive Developmental Disorders in DSM-IV-TR, which was still in use at the time of the study. It was succeeded by DSM-5 in May 2013.

  2. Here and elsewhere, percentage breakdowns may not sum to 100 due to rounding.

  3. Percentages are not mutually exclusive due to instances of multiple sources of support being accessed.

  4. As participants could record up to three comments in both the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ streams, the percentages shown in Tables 6 and 7 are not mutually exclusive and do not sum to 100.

  5. Participants working at skill levels 2 and 3 were excluded from this and the following analysis due to small numbers.


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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Debra Costley.

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This study was approved by the Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) Research Approvals Committee.

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Baldwin, S., Costley, D. & Warren, A. Employment Activities and Experiences of Adults with High-Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Disorder. J Autism Dev Disord 44, 2440–2449 (2014).

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