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Autism, attributions and accommodations: Overcoming barriers and integrating a neurodiverse workforce

Eric Patton (Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 2 May 2019

Issue publication date: 23 May 2019




Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) represent a growing segment of the population but face important obstacles in the workplace. Even for ASD individuals with the mildest form/highest-functioning type, unemployment is 80 percent, and many of those who work are underemployed. This in spite of the fact that these individuals are highly intelligent and capable of excellent work. The purpose of this paper is to present a model of the unique challenges that workers with ASD face in the modern workplace based on stigmas and discrimination surrounding mental health, attribution theory and the disconnect between behaviors common to neurodiverse individuals and some of the most researched theories in the field of organizational behavior. The goal of the paper is to encourage more empirical research focused specifically on ASD workers.


A review of the literature on ASD in juxtaposed to evidence-based social psychology and management theories to demonstrate the difficulties faced by individuals with ASD.


Recommendations for overcoming these barriers and using management theories to help integrate ASD workers are discussed.


Workers with ASD are a growing population in the workforce, but have received scant research attention. This is the first paper to link several theories to ASD and the hope is that subsequent research will illuminate these relationships empirically.



Patton, E. (2019), "Autism, attributions and accommodations: Overcoming barriers and integrating a neurodiverse workforce", Personnel Review, Vol. 48 No. 4, pp. 915-934.



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