Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2021

Academic Department

Occupational Therapy

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Judy Ericksen


Autism Spectrum Disorder, commonly referred to as ASD or autism, is a neurological disorder defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities are included in the diagnostic criteria (DSM-5). Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face disproportionately high levels of unemployment and underemployment (Khalifa et al., 2020). Engagement in work is a meaningful occupation that helps shape one’s identity and is a vital part of an individual’s wellbeing (Hedley et al., 2018). One’s participation in work often defines them and gives them a sense of purpose (Scott et al., 2018), and workplace participation can positively impact social connections, independence, and quality of life (Valentini et al., 2018). There are facilitators and barriers to employment that have been identified that generally hold true (Khalifa et al., 2020; Muller, et al., 2018; Scott et al., 2018); however, because ASD presents as a spectrum each individual may have a different story. Currently, the literature has an array of helpful information from different perspectives from key stakeholders' in employment including parents, employers, and co-workers (Albright et al., 2020; Muller et al., 2018; Murfitt et al., 2018; Valentini et al., 2019); however, there is a lack of detailed firsthand perspectives describing unique experiences from those with ASD. Giving the ASD community a voice and listening to their unique experiences can help raise awareness of their capabilities and provide valuable insight into a key stakeholder’s perspective that has often been overlooked.


Honors in the Discipline; OT 494 Undergraduate Scholarship Practicum II; Scholarship and Creative Arts Day (SCAD)