Autism in the Workplace (March 2023)

This essay first appeared in the March 2023 issue of Choice (volume 60 | issue 7).


Autism is a lifelong, genetic disorder that creates communication challenges, including social-emotional reciprocity, nonverbal communicative behavior deficits, and relationship struggles; restricted or repetitive behavior patterns and interests; and sensitivity to sensory inputs.¹ This disorder presents a range of conditions, known as the autism spectrum, which spans from “low-functioning” individuals, who have significant speech challenges, to “high-functioning” individuals, who can communicate but have other social and behavioral challenges; high-functioning autism has traditionally been called Asperger’s syndrome. This disorder has become more of a mainstream topic, with television shows and movies, such as The Good Doctor and Rainman, depicting characters on the spectrum and more celebrities, including Dan Ackroyd, revealing their condition. Further, in their “Data and Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder,” the Centers for Disease Control show an increase in recorded autism spectrum disorder diagnoses from 2,000 (1 in 150 children) to 2,018 (1 in 44 children). With a growing awareness of autism comes a greater need to combat hurtful stereotypes and provide support to individuals on the spectrum in society and the workforce.

1.  This description is adapted from the American Psychological Association’s definition of autism in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

About the author:

Gundars Kaupins is professor of human resource management at Boise State University. He has a PhD in human resource management from the University of Iowa. His work includes some 400 journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, and case studies on autism in the workplace, human resource ethics, experiential training, and creativity. He has focused on person-job fit and high-functioning autism in teaching. His recent work includes “Investigating Recommended Jobs for Generation A Individuals with High-Functioning Autism to Enhance Person-Job Fit,” published in Generation A : Research on Autism in the Workplace, ed. by Cristina Giannantonio and Amy Hurley-Hanson (discussed in this essay).