Date Presented 04/20/2023

This study will provide OT practitioners and researchers with a greater understanding of and insight into the significance of occupations in the lives of autistic adults.

Primary Author and Speaker: NADILYN M RUSHTON

Additional Authors and Speakers: Josh Wilde, Lauralee Broschinsky

Contributing Authors: Barbara Kornblau, Bill Wong, Scott Michael Robertson, Stanley Protigal

PURPOSE: This study will provide occupational therapy practitioners, researchers and the autistic community with a greater understanding and insight into the significance of the role of occupations in the lives of autistic adults.

DESIGN: This is a phenomenological qualitative study.

METHOD: This study used a qualitative design incorporating community-based participatory research, which included a team of autistic adult researchers. After approval from the IRB, the researchers sent out a Qualtrics survey of open-ended questions, which were developed by the entire research team, through different social media platforms that incorporate the autistic adult communities. The data was collected and thematic analysis was completed, with the community based participatory research team during research meetings.

RESULTS: This study received twenty-six responses, six of which were disqualified from the survey because they did not meet the inclusion criteria. Of the twenty respondents fourteen of these individuals fully completed the survey. Respondents identified several facilitators and barriers to participation in occupations and common themes were identified. For example, facilitators to participation in occupations included sensory modulation, consistency & routine, self advocacy, community resource access, and healthcare access. While barriers to participation in occupations included sensory dysregulation, social barriers, logistics & environmental factors, fatigue & health problems.

CONCLUSION: This research provides participants and occupational therapists with new insight into the relationship between participation in occupations and the wellbeing of autistic adults. This may provide a roadmap for occupational therapists to support autistic adults’ participation in everyday occupations.


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