All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Elizabeth Baker

Advisory Committee Members

Adrienne Milner

Larrell Wilkinson

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences


AUTISM AND WORK: THE IMPACT OF COMORBIDITY ON EMPLOYMENT KAREN HARRIS MEDICAL SOCIOLOGY ABSTRACT There is a growing population of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the United States that desire participation in the workforce, yet this population is the least employed out of those with disabilities. This study is framed in a theoretical underpinning of stigma, and undertaken to determine if comorbidity (physical or mental or both) and social support are key factors in employment among the ASD population. Using data from the Interactive Autism Network (IAN) Research Database, nested logistic regression was performed on 222 adults ranging in age from 18-71 who completed the survey on the IAN website. Descriptive analysis shows that the majority of this sample has both mental and physical comorbidities, live with their spouses and/or kids, do not receive financial support from other family members, are female, highly educated, non-Hispanic white, and over age 30. After adjusting for age, education, sex, and race, results find that mental comorbidity and education are significant factors in employment outcomes among the ASD population. This research could be an important factor in policy development, and suggests that for successful employment of ASD individuals, accommodations may need to be made for comorbid mental disorders. Keywords: Autism, ASDs, comorbidity, employment, social support



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