The Lived Experiences and Perspectives of People with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Mainstream Employment in Australia

Melissa Sharpe, Claire Hutchinson, June Alexander

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Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience significant barriers to employment. This study aimed to look at the support received by individuals with ASD in gaining and maintaining open employment from their perspective. A phenomenological approach was adopted with participants (n = 9) participating in semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis identified four key themes; being supported, feeling successful, career progression and expectations.
The findings suggest that individuals with ASD receive support from many different sources in their employment including supervisors, co-workers and parents. The support they received from disability employment consultants was more focused on obtaining a job rather than job maintenance or career progression. Career progression was rarely discussed by participants with their disability employment consultant, despite some evidence of poor job matches and unused qualifications and skills (reflecting a poor investment for individuals and society). Despite this, participants reported feeling successful due to having a job, having pride in their work, and feeling valued by co-workers. The study highlights the need for more research on understanding the longer-term support needs of people with ASD in open employment. Changes in policy to better resource and incentivize disability employment providers could produce more positive outcomes for people with ASD throughout their working lives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-177
Number of pages14
Issue number2
Early online date28 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • autism spectrum disorder
  • disability employment services
  • job matching
  • open employment
  • support needs


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