Celebrating neuro-diversity in Irish workplace, enabling support practices and disabling barriers.

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Li, Le
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BA (Hons) in Social Science
Dublin Business School
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People with Autism face more challenges than an average person in workplace due to challenges they experience with social interaction and sensory sensitivity. In neuro-typical dominated workplace, societal mis-conceptions on the nature of the challenges they experience and on top of it, social and physical environment of the workplace that are not built for them are the main employment barriers. Neuro-diversity is not only viewed as a concept to recognize neurological differences as natural human variations, but also as a social movement that advocates to celebrate autistic forms of perceiving and striving in the world. Many argued with empirical evidences that there is inherent strength that lies in Neuro-diversity. There is a research deficit to explore disabling employment barriers and enabling vocational support practices that are underpinned by the concept of neuro-diversity for high functioning autistic adults in Irish society. The aim of the research is to fill this gap. Semi-structured interviews were conducted among vocational rehabilitation support staffs and neuro-typical employees who were closely working with high functioning autistic employees. IPA (Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis) was applied to perform data collection and analysis. There are two main findings emerged that were not found in Irish Autism literature. One is, it has been empirically proven the importance of acknowledging the individualistic nature of neuro-diversity. Fully embracing it has significantly helped vocational support professionals in Ireland to devise individually-tailored support that unleashed autistic individual’s strengths and abilities in workplace. This finding supports the argument that the causes of developing mental health problems among autistic adults are complex and multifaceted. Lacking right support is one of the prevailing reasons for social exclusion. This finding challenges the existing finding that social skill deficits is the main reason in developing mental health issues for autistic population.