Editors Note: This is US research but it would likely apply in Australia as well.


Wage earners living with autism make almost $9 less hourly than the median Pennsylvanian.

A study released last week by Drexel University researchers finds that people with an autism spectrum disorder who complete vocational rehabilitation — government funded job training — trail far behind the median income and most earn far less than the federal poverty limit.

The authors bill the National Autism Indicators Report from the university’s A.J. Drexel Autism Institute as baseline data to help inform policy makers and improve programs. It doesn’t attempt to explain in detail what causes wage and employment gaps, although the report briefly cites other sources, saying that many with autism receive Social Security benefits that could be cut off if they earn too much.

“Despite billions spent annually, we still don’t have a strong evidence base about how to improve outcomes,” Paul T. Shattuck, Ph.D., who leads Drexel’s Life Course Outcomes Research Program, writes in the report.

Wage disparity and underemployment is not exclusive to people with autism, said Pamela Zotynia, executive director of the Arc of Luzerne County, an organization that assists and advocates for people with disabilities.

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“It really is the same for all people with significant disabilities,” she said. People with a variety of disabilities “historically have been underemployed, or when they are employed are earning much less than their typical peers.”

Her organization had been among others advocating for a bill that last week cleared the state House of Representatives and is expected to be signed into law…

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