The autism advantage at work: A critical and systematic review of current evidence

Simon M. Bury, Darren Hedley, Mirko Uljarević, Eynat Gal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Despite difficulties entering the workforce, people on the autism spectrum are often successful. Furthermore, they are suggested to bring unique abilities (e.g., attention to detail, tolerance for repetitive tasks) related to the repetitive and restrictive behaviours and interests (RRBI) diagnostic domain, that may be advantageous in employment. Aims: This critical and systematic review examined evidence supporting the superior workplace performance of employees on the autism spectrum, particularly regarding the RRBI domain. Method and procedures: A systematic review (PRISMA guidelines) evaluated empirical peer-reviewed studies that assess employees on the autism spectrum's performance in the workplace or on work-specific tasks. Nine databases were searched, with additional papers identified from reference lists and consultation. Outcomes and results: Two quantitative and four qualitative papers met criteria. Results reflect themes; attention to detail, tolerance of repetitive tasks, special/circumscribed interests, other RRBI related advantages/concerns. Conclusions and implications: Due to the nature and quality of the identified studies there is currently no strong evidence supporting or negating a workplace autism advantage. This review highlights the need for more research and urges constraint in utilising stereotypes that may not apply to all on the autism spectrum, arguing an individual differences approach to supporting autism strengths at work.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number103750
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume105
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

Keywords

  • Autism advantage
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Repetitive and restrictive behaviours and interests (RRBI)
  • Talent
  • Workplace performance

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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