Autism and employment: what works

Susan M. Hayward, Keith R. McVilly, Mark A. Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: People with autism have been identified as having a substantial contribution to make in the technology sector. Their intellectual abilities coupled with their focus and attention to detail have been recognized as desirable traits making them highly productive. However, these individuals report difficulties in employment, and there is a paucity of literature concerning the factors that attract and retain them; particularly from their viewpoint.

Method: Data was collected from 76 adults; 44 with autism and 32 neuro-typical (NT; i.e., adults without autism). Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis in which the major themes of: work relationships, and environment; as well as person-organization fit, diversity climate, and bargaining emerged. Quantitative analysis then determined if these themes were more/less likely to be reported by individuals with autism.

Results: Those with autism (vs NT individuals) were more likely to indicate enablers, or reasons for occupational longevity consistent with collegial understanding, the physical occupational environment, and circumstances that limited contact with others.

Conclusions: The results reflect what is known clinically about Autism Spectrum Disorder, and are consistent with Conservation of Resources and Social Exchange theories. It was concluded that vocational assistance for individuals with autism requires intervention at both individual and organizational levels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-58
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Autism Spectrum Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019


  • ASD
  • Diversity
  • Human resources
  • Inclusion
  • Sustainability
  • Women


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