Employment Perception on Autism Spectrum Disorder


In the process of the LIPS project, we aim to focus on fostering the inclusion of people with autism in the workplace and we want to raise awareness of the benefits when employing people with autism without learning disabilities.

In January, we completed research to prepare national reports on the rights of people with disabilities in the labor market in Spain, Poland, North Macedonia, and Slovenia. The analysis and comparison of laws are an excellent guide through the next steps in developing materials. It is also a great support base that can continuously connect the world of work and people with an autism spectrum disorder.

The area of research and treatment of autism spectrum groups in work integration is even more important today than it used to be as members of these groups often experience exclusion from the labor market or their basic rights are violated in practice.

In the field of work and employment, there are usually intertwined reasons that prevent individuals from enjoying their full rights. A better insight into the employment situation of groups with disabilities can be gained by comparing the situation between other EU Member States.

In Spain, as of December 2022, people with autism are recognized as a group of special vulnerability in the new employment law. Although this is a great advance, there is still a long way to go. Asperger’s syndrome or autism type 1 is a fundamental Social Disability since the barriers have been generated that cause intelligent people capable of developing a job to present such high unemployment rates when they reach adulthood.

However, according to data from Autism Europe, between 76% to 90% of adults with autism are unemployed and do not develop any productive or labor activity, which makes them the disabled group with the highest unemployment rate in Spain.

There are different ways of defining people with disabilities, and it is worth pointing out that working with them can be a unique challenge, bringing diversity to employers in the long term and creating an organizational culture that is supportive, non-discriminatory, and ethical.

European legislation on non-discrimination at work is one of the most comprehensive in the world, covering race, ethnicity, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation. The Eurobarometer results (EU, 2015) cover three areas of equal employment opportunities:

  • factors influencing restrictions to employment,
  • factors supporting the promotion of diversity in the workplace, and
  • perceptions of whether enough is being done to promote diversity.

Employing people with disabilities is a challenging process for employers, who face doubts such as how to ensure that individuals are properly included, how to guide them, and how to avoid discriminatory behavior in day-to-day work. It is also a challenge for individuals with disabilities, in terms of how to choose the right job and working environment, how to present themselves in the best possible way, how to achieve the expected work results, and how to communicate their rights and special needs.

Incorporating the labor market of adults and women on the autism spectrum is essential to promote their:

  • quality of life,
  • personal autonomy, and
  • access to an independent life.

In this case, we act as a bridge in obtaining the necessary information that links and integrates and ensures a better understanding of a particular issue in society.

All employment organizations need to be generally informed about the personal and other characteristics of individuals belonging to a particular group with disabilities and how these characteristics can be reflected at work.

The recognition of Social Disability is essential so no person on the autism spectrum is left without the right to protection due to disability and/or dependency, something which unfortunately is happening more and more, and which deprives people and families of the fundamental tools to develop their own life project and participation in the community.

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