A mixed-method systematic literature review and research agenda for autism employment
Businesses and governments worldwide are pushing for and employing people with autism in the absence of a rigorous academic foundation to guide them. Understanding how to build the capacity of employers to effectively utilize this highly un(der)-employed group and leverage their unique talents is critical to achieving a successful and sustainable outcome. This systematic literature review maps the state of knowledge on this topic by examining evidence from both qualitative and quantitative research relating to the barriers and enablers for autistic people in gaining and maintaining skilled employment. The common thread across the material reviewed is that inclusive organizational cultures as well as the positive and inclusive attitudes of managers and co-workers are core to the participation of autistic people in employment. Yet, the constituent management philosophies and attitudes that support inclusion of autistic employees are not well understood, and advancing knowledge in this area is currently undermined by limited evidence that is predominately based on small scale qualitative studies, underutilization of theory, and overuse of autism symptomatology as a lens of analysis. It is our hope that the research questions and guiding theoretical perspectives we offer herein will inspire and build scholarship in this important emerging area.