Asperger syndrome and employment

My research in a short career so far has concentrated on workplace misbehaviour and employee uses for Web 2.0 communication technology.

More recently, however, I have also been working on a quite different area - adults who have Asperger syndrome and the many problems they have seeking and holding down jobs.

It's a very new area for employment researchers and I've only mentioned it once on my blog before.

The outcome is working paper I intend to present to a sociology conference next week.

My paper is entitled: A labour process analysis of the exclusion of adults with Asperger syndrome from the workplace.

It's really an attempt to look at what sociologists can contribute to helping with the problem.

A paper can be viewed here (please contact me with any comments).

The abstract is as follows:

By comparison with the general employment experiences of adults with a recognised disability, adults with Asperger syndrome – a ‘social’ disability – have been found to have extreme problems when seeking and holding down long-term employment opportunities.

The eclectic literature that explores this emergent problem suggests the widespread exclusion of individuals with Asperger syndrome from the workplace is a multi-dimensional and highly complex problem, and the ‘problem’ is unlikely to be resolved without input from many professional fields of practice.

However, a key dimension to the problem is that until now problems of exclusion have been examined without drawing on a mass of social science literature based on the critical examination of work organisations.

As such, this paper investigates the problem from a labour process perspective – that is, how a labour process based on prioritising profits and targets is likely to conflict with attempts to make necessary and ongoing adjustments for such individuals.

The main approach and method used in the paper involves analysis of secondary qualitative data.

Particular attention is given to the role that socially organised resistance to organisational control, associated with informal groups rather than trade unions, plays in the exclusion of individuals with Asperger syndrome from the workplace.

The key findings suggest the benefits of specialist intervention practices, usually provided by external consultants, is quickly neutralised where employers knowingly or unknowingly marginalise or undermine day-to-day socially organised attempts to support such employees.

Recommendations are made on the character and direction by which future research in this area should progress.


Carrie said...

As an adult with AS that was diagnosed as an adult, for me, the DX came AFTER the problems I had experienced for the first 10 years of my career. I am interested inthe unfolding research in this area but the research tends to follow the kids, who's parents hold insurance and pay to treat them with new interventions. The dx became official in 94 and kids born in that era won't be in the workforce for another few years so I suspect it will be quite a few years before any real progress in the way of awareness is made.

Drea said...

Would be very interested in knowing how your presentation went. Currently looking for research like this to back an employment initiative for AS. Would I be able to discuss using some of your work (with credit)?

James said...

I don't see why not, Drea. Any more details?

Drea said...

My thanks for the OK. Our members have identified AS adult employment as a key issue. I am hoping to get a project off the ground that provides joint training - for those with AS and with employers looking to hire. I have an associate that works with the underemployed/unemployed and comes up with creative strategies. I'm hoping that we can get a funded pilot that might convince the government for ongoing training. I'm trying to pull together the research cases that would support the creation of this initiative.

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