Towards successful employment of adults with autism: A first analysis of special interests and factors deemed important for vocational performance

  • Jennifer Christina Kirchner Cluster of Excellence Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Isabel Dziobek
Keywords: Autism, special interests, employment

Abstract

Background: Adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and with intelligence quotients in the normal range are disproportionately affected by unemployment.

Objective: We sought to assess special interests that could bear potential for employment as well as factors deemed relevant for work performance in adults with ASD.

Method: A newly compiled self-report online questionnaire was administered to high-functioning adults with ASD to assess special interests as well as factors that both interfere with and facilitate work performance.

Results: Participants reported that they spent an average of 26 hours per week on their special interests, and their average level of proficiency was rated as very good. Although special interests were reported to be in the social sciences and the creative fields as often as they were in the natural sciences and technology/engineering, the most common approach taken within those fields was systemizing rather than a creative or knowledge-acquiring pursuit. Social interaction problems with coworkers and superiors as well as sensory issues were most often rated as interfering with work performance. In addition, mental underload was rated as an important factor that interfered with work performance, whereas excessive demands were not. Among the factors most often reported to facilitate work performance were employers’ and colleagues’ awareness of the individual’s ASD diagnosis.

Conclusion: Our data suggest that special interests among individuals with ASD may bear important potential for employment. Given the focus on systemizing in this population, recent efforts to create job opportunities in the information technology sector specifically for high-functioning individuals with ASD are a promising start. However, these efforts should be expanded into other fields.

Published
2014-07-10
How to Cite
Kirchner, J., & Dziobek, I. (2014). Towards successful employment of adults with autism: A first analysis of special interests and factors deemed important for vocational performance. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 2(2), 77-85. Retrieved from https://tidsskrift.dk/sjcapp/article/view/15858