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College of Charleston Study Focuses on Autism in the Workplace

Unemployment is a major obstacle for many people on the autism spectrum, despite many being highly gifted in math, science, technology, and other fields. A new study at the College of Charleston in South Carolina is seeking to help those on the spectrum by studying autism in the workplace, and the barriers that exist for those on the spectrum. Dr. Christopher Whelpley, Assistant Professor of Management at the college and a lead researcher in the study, explained that autism, “Seems to be a stigmatized category within society…on the other hand, we know from the employer’s perspective that there’s a lot of advantages that autistic individuals can bring into the workplace that perhaps other people would not.” According to a report by ABC News 4.com, the new study focused on both individuals with autism and managers who work with people on the spectrum. The researchers found that people with autism encounter several barriers during the interview process, including questions about their performance capabilities, and a focus on their autism rather than on themselves as an individual. The study was published in January in the Journal of Business and Psychology. Whelpley said he and his team found that many autistic individuals, “Felt that they were discriminated against, and a lot of managers felt as though autistic individuals are also discriminated against, depending on whether or not they disclosed and in what manner they disclosed being autistic to their coworkers or their managers.”


Whelpley acknowledged recent data showing there’s one million adults under the age of 21 with autism nationwide, meaning many will be searching for employment in the near future. He added that he hopes his research will encourage businesses to develop work inclusive strategies and inclusive environments. “As more and more autistic people enter the workforce, we hope research like ours and research that other people are doing can remove those barriers and help find a win-win for the companies that are out there,” he said. “And, finally, we hope that autistic individuals can benefit from this, not just in terms of a paycheck, but in terms of life autonomy, in terms of job satisfaction and hopefully life satisfaction.” Source: https://abcnews4.com/news/local/college-of-charleston-study-looks-at-autism-in-the-workplace

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