Research on experiences of autistic interns

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This research, from Anna Remington at University College London, examines the experiences of autistic and non-autistic individuals participating in a corporate internship scheme.

Autistic people can find it difficult to find and keep a job, and fewer autistic people are employed compared with people from other disability groups. There is not enough research in this area, especially research that directly compares the experiences of autistic and non-autistic colleagues starting in an organisation at the same time. Our study looked at the experiences of autistic and non-autistic people taking part in an internship at Deutsche Bank, UK. We spoke to the interns before the internship began, and again once it had finished. We also asked the interns’ hiring managers about their experiences of the internship. We used interviews and online questionnaires to find out people’s views. Before the programme began, managers of autistic interns were more worried about the internship than managers of the non-autistic interns. They were worried about providing the right level of support, communicating successfully and treating all their employees fairly. At the end of the internship, everyone felt that the internship was a success. Managers of autistic interns explained how the experience had made them better managers. Both groups of interns and said that they benefitted from clear communication and would have likes more support. Managers of autistic interns spoke about dividing tasks up into smaller chunks and being flexible in their communication were helpful when working with the autistic interns. More work is needed to make sure that autistic interns are integrated alongside non-autistic peers. One way to make this happen might be to create guides for managers.