Exploring relationships between mental health and work for autistic adults
Autistic adults are far more likely to face challenges in finding and maintaining suitable work roles than their neurotypical peers.
Our studies have explored some of the links between employment and mental health for autistic adults. This may help determine the types of mental health supports and accommodations that autistic adults need to thrive in the workplace.
We were the first to look at relationships between the way autistic people perceive their anxiety levels and their ability to get things done (executive function), and how well they perceive they can socialise and work. We found that participants who thought that they had more difficulties with executive function and social anxiety, also believed they were less able to work.
Woolard, A., Stratton, E., Demetriou, E. A., Boulton, K. A., Pellicano, E., Glozier, N., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2021). Perceptions of social and work functioning are related to social anxiety and executive function in autistic adults. Autism, 25(7), 2124-2134.
We explored the links between disability, mental health, and time off work for autistic employees. We found that autistic employees had moderate-to-severe depression, severe anxiety, and moderate stress. Almost half had taken a 'disability day' off work in the past 30 days. Mental health challenges, specifically levels of depression, was the best predictor of a 'disability day'.
Stratton, E., Glozier, N., Woolard, A., Gibbs, V., Demetriou, E. A., Boulton, K. A., ... & Guastella, A. J. (2022). Understanding the vocational functioning of autistic employees: the role of disability and mental health. Disability and Rehabilitation, 1-9.