Building Employer Capacity to Support Meaningful Vocation for People with ASD: A Grounded Theory Study of Multi-Stakeholder Perspectives
Objectives: This research systematically explored strategies for building employer capacity to support meaningful employment opportunity for individuals with ASD.
Methods: Given the need for theoretical understanding to inform and advance vocational opportunity for individuals with ASD, a grounded theory design was used. Grounded theory is well established for the investigation of complex, multi-faceted human experiential phenomena, offering a theoretically rich understanding of processes and perceived outcomes. Purposeful and theoretical sampling was used to recruit participants across two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Alberta. Data collection to date has involved individual and group interviews with adults with ASD (N=25), their caregivers (N=12), employment supports (N=32), and employers (N=5). Recruitment, data collection and analysis is ongoing until data saturation is reached. We anticipate closing recruitment by the end of 2016. In line with grounded theory methods, data analysis is an iterative process. Therefore, verbatim (identifiers removed) transcripts and associated field notes are subjected to qualitative data analysis as they are completed. Data management and analysis are supported by N-Vivo11 software.
Results: Preliminary data analysis reveals five emergent themes related to building employer capacity to support vocational development for adults with ASD: (1) Accommodation; (2) Education and understanding disability; (3) Employment supports as vital; (4) Equal treatment and provision of equal opportunity for people with ASD in the workforce; and (5) Perception of visible versus invisible disability in the workforce.
Conclusions: This research is novel is its focus on building employer, rather than employee, capacity to support meaningful employment for individuals with ASD. Identified gaps and potential solutions, from the perspectives of multiple stakeholder groups, will be discussed.