Autism and Employment: Youth YouTube Vloggers' Perspectives

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Nersesova, Nina
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This research focused on young people with autism spectrum (AS) who share their first voice perspectives in relation to employment as described on their YouTube channels. Previous research shows that people with AS experience unemployment or underemployment, including a paucity of workplace accommodations. Therefore, there is a requirement to explore employment outcomes for this marginalized group in order to increase their quality of life, economic independence, and social integration and ultimately benefit both employers and employees. This thesis examines YouTube videos of youth vloggers (15-24 years old) who identify as autists and whose content is in English. The thesis uses a media content analysis (Hsieh & Shannon, 2005) to collect data from the YouTube social media platform and examines youth vloggers’ experiences with employment using an inductive approach by coding and categorizing the data. The popularization of the Internet allows people with AS to be heard and it is a valuable source to listen to their lived experiences. The findings show that the youth in this study experience workplace barriers, such as: standardized interview process, lack of workplace accommodations and societal discrimination. These challenges led to various mental health problems, job termination and decreased quality of life. However, the youth vloggers also discuss different coping techniques for positive employment outcomes, including the option of self-employment. While contributing to the existing literature, this study also demonstrates the importance of accessing the first voice perspectives of youth with AS to ensure equitable access to their employment.
YouTube, autism, employment opportunity