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Christina H. Rebholz is a 2012 graduate of the Psy.D. Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Seattle

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2012

Abstract

Many journal articles about autism spectrum disorders have been published. The definition of “high-functioning autism” used in these papers may need to be reconsidered, as a segment of the population may be more skilled than has been historically thought. A percentage of people on the autism spectrum work in a high-paying professional capacity, in industries such as computer technology and health care. Their intellectual capacities allow them to successfully perform the portions of their jobs that require deep technical knowledge. However, they struggle with the cognitive and social issues associated with the autism spectrum, such as: concrete thinking; literal information processing; contextual misunderstanding; and social misunderstandings. This qualitative study examines the issues encountered by high-functioning people on the autism spectrum who are in the top quartile of American wage earners. It also recounts the reaction of the participants to a major employment lawsuit filed by a knowledge worker with Asperger’s. In addition, the subjects describe what they believe are the strengths that they bring to the workplace that they do not perceive in people who are not on the autism spectrum. The electronic version of this dissertation is at OhioLink ETD Center, www.ohiolink.edu/etd .

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