This research aims to inform policymakers on how best to support autistics in pursuing meaningful careers that develop their full potential. It focuses on Singapore’s situation, is based on the autistic perspective, and targets adult autistics aged 18 and above. It aims to be as comprehensive as possible, covering all aspects required of career development.
The chief researcher, Eric, has a decade of experience working closely with psychometrics. This includes test/survey design, test/survey administration, data processing and data analysis. He is also familiar with the design and use of online test platforms.
An advisory committee of academic researchers with extensive experience of autism research, including both autistic and NeuroTypical PhD holders, will provide guidance for this research project. This is to ensure that the research findings can meet the rigorous quality standards for both academic research and policy-making. The raw data obtained from this project will be shared with the advisory committee members to assist them with their own research.
At the end of the project, a research paper will be written to present the findings to policymakers for their follow-up action.
Eric’s Interest in this Project
My personal interest in this project is to develop a life coaching system suitable for autistics, which will address career, mental wellness, biomedical and other issues necessary for them to create their own career. As autistics have different needs and mentalities from NeuroTypicals, existing NeuroTypical approaches have to be redesigned to accommodate them. But before we can go around redesigning systems, it is necessary to establish the needs of the autistics accurately, so that the areas of intervention can be pinpointed for further research.
For instance, if most male autistics have chronic fatigue issues, then we will need to find ways to address that or they will be unable to focus at school/work. Likewise, if we find that female autistics have far more sensory difficulties but much lesser social difficulties compared to male autistics, then we can advise teachers/employers to pay attention to that aspect.
In addition, there is also no research specifically focusing on the employment needs and situation (e.g. discrimination) of adult autistics in Singapore, and I wish to cover this gap.
I wish to profile all autistics aged 18+ in Singapore who have the cognitive ability to take the survey themselves, but I understand that I will be unlikely to obtain that. What I wish to settle for is to use this preliminary research to obtain interest/funding and gauge potential exploration areas for a full-fledged follow-up study. This means that the focus will be broad and shallow, which I believe is possible to do using the low-cost online survey approach. It is also possible that I can expand the research target to cover participants in Malaysia or other Asian countries to help boost the N-Size.
This project will start in 2019. It will use a series of Google Forms to collect responses anonymously, with special precautions taken to safeguard data integrity. Most of the responses will be close-ended (7-point scale) to facilitate analysis. Open-ended responses will be included but kept to a minimum.
Participants will be given the option to identify themselves if they wish to participate in further research, but no personally identifying data will be included in the dataset. The mechanisms for recruitment will include social media, partner organisations and autism-related events.
Recruitment of sufficient numbers of adult autistics to participate in this survey is expected to be the single biggest hurdle; we are very likely to obtain an N-Size of less than 100 participants. What the study lacks in numbers, we hope to make it up in quality, by collecting a broad swatch of data from the limited number of participants.
Scope of Data Collection
- Biodata: What we can expect to find in typical job resumes
- Attitudes: Values, Beliefs, Life Purpose
- Preferences: Interests, Desires, Learning Styles, Leisure Activities
- Preparation: Skills, Educational Qualifications, Support
- Situation: Employment Status, Satisfaction, Life Goals
- Life: Living Conditions, Relationships, Expenditure, Budget, Personal Security
- Accommodation: Issues faced, Types of Discrimination, Sources of Social Difficulties, Support Provided
- Autism: Attitudes towards Advocacy, Contributions to the Community, Bias against Autistics
The list of prospective data to be collected is still under refinement, and will change after consulting with the advisory committee.
Family members and friends of the autistics who are participating in the survey will also be invited to participate in the survey too in order to create a control group and provide more data for analysis.
The advisory committee members are currently being recruited for this project. 2 autistic and 2 NeuroTypical researchers, all of whom have PhD credentials, have agreed to support the project.