Educational and vocational engagement and participation

Vocation (e.g., employment, study) can empower autistic adults to become more engaged, active and independent within their communities.

Research theme leader: Professor Cheryl Dissanayake

Researchers: Darren Hedley, Amanda Richdale, Simon Bury, Rebecca Flower, Josephine Barbaro, Melissa Gilbert, Lauren Lawson

We are continuing work on the benefits to autistic individuals, employers and broader society of enhancing rates of autism employment, and on ensuring an individual differences approach to supporting autistic strengths at work.

OTARC Seminar series presentation - Associate Professor Jennifer Spoor

Autism@Work Employment Programs and Meaningful Work for Autistic Individuals

There has been a recent growth in autism employment programs that aim to improve employment outcomes for autistic adults while also benefitting the organisation by bringing in unique skills, interests, and perspectives of autistic people. As these Autism@Work style of employment programs proliferate, we think it is important to consider the ethical tensions that might arise in these programs, particularly with respect to whether these programs provide autistic people with meaningful work.

Jennifer Spoor is an Associate Professor in Management/HRM in the La Trobe Business School.

Autistic people face significant barriers to entering the workforce, which can make an important contribution to their well-being. Nine autistic adults participated in three focus groups aiming to understand the autistic experience around recruitment, selection, training, and onboarding in a supportive employment ICT program. We found four themes:

  1. trainees’ previous work experiences,
  2. expectations of the employment program,
  3. recruitment, and
  4. selection processes; and training and transition.

Overall, trainees in the program supported the use of alternate recruitment and selection processes.

Where to now? Our next step is identify ideal factors and support systems linked to successful employment for autistic people that lead to long-lasting and meaningful careers.

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