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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien
29. Oktober 2019

Autism in the Workplace – How the Diagnosis of a Developmental Disorder Affects Employment Situations in Japan

The spread of information on developmental disorders, mainly Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, as well as changes in disability employment legislation have led to an increased number of diagnoses and a heightened interest in the subject of employment for individuals on the spectrum both in Japan and in the international context. Little research exists, however, on the perspective of employees on the spectrum, their actual employment situation, the opportunities and hurdles they face, and their coping strategies.

Japanese companies and employment facilities use the designation of disability to create employment structures that often differ from general employment structures in regards to work content, remuneration, or career opportunities. Based on preliminary findings from six months of participant observation in privately organized gathering spaces for persons with developmental disabilities and qualitative interviews with the participants in those spaces, this study reveals how individuals on the spectrum make use of the employment structures provided for them, or eschew them to find different ways of employment.