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SSHRC Insight Grant - David Nicholas

Examining Labour Force Participation among Adults with High-Functioning Autism - David Nicholas, Principal Investigator

Adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) including those with no comorbid intellectual disability (ID), experience high rates of unemployment and under-employment.  In earlier studies in this program of research, individuals with ASD frequently reported hiring protocols and workplace environments that insufficiently accommodated their needs, under-recognized their cognitive abilities, and provided few opportunities for workplace advancement.  Unfortunately, there is limited empirical evidence offering trajectories of employment success for this population; and notably, individuals with ASD and no comorbid ID, can be overlooked relative to their strengths and challenges in the workplace.  This gap anecdotally results in stress and under-employment for individuals and vicarious challenge for families.  It further heightens the societal risk of not optimally engaging human talent that alternatively could offer benefit to the labour market.  Vocational growth, personal satisfaction and economic benefit for these individuals with ASD may be substantially impeded due to such patterns of diminished labour engagement;.  To address this gap, this study addresses the needs of adults with ASD with no comorbid ID, relative to their labour market involvement.  A mixed method design examines patterns and strategies for advancing employment stability.  Findings are expected to offer tangible recommendations to promote workforce access and productivity, and inclusive human resource practices and policies.