A Macro-Environmental Analysis of Competitive Employment for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
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Society’s understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorder have evolved tremendously in the last decades as prevalence numbers have increased dramatically. Much of the research into autism has been focused on interventions, biology, and surveillance, with only a small fraction of funding and research going to lifespan and employment issues. There is no comprehensive multidisciplinary perspective that captures the threats and opportunities to build a neurodiverse workforce.
Some thirty years after the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the workforce participation rate and the employment rate of people with disabilities remains much lower than the general population. Unemployment rates for individuals on the spectrum have been estimated at 50 to 75 percent and youth with autism are among the least likely to be employed compared to peers with other disabilities. Competitive employment is associated with positive quality of life outcomes.
This thesis will present a multidisciplinary scoping review of the existing research on employment and autism within the political, economic, social, and technological macro domains. The purpose is to gain an understanding of the forces shaping the competitive employment environment for people on the spectrum with a particular focus on small business. The review yields a summary of threats and opportunities, provides recommendations for increased and inclusive employment for people with autism, and identifies research gaps and future research opportunities.