Autism Centre for Research on Employment (ACRE)
Supporting autistic adults in finding and retaining employment
ACRE was developed to address the gap in provision for autistic adults in terms of employment, and to facilitate job retention by developing tools to support employers in the process of making work adaptations tailored to their autistic employees.
In an interview for Autism Awareness month, Beatriz Lopez explains about the work undertaken by the Autism Centre for Research on Employment, which was recognised by the National Autistic Society with the award for Outstanding Adult Services in 2016.
Our mission and values
ACRE works to empower and support autistic people to realise their full employment potential. Specially we aim to:
- Promote the rights of autistic people to contribute to our society
- Enable the provision of personalised support tailored to their individual strengths and needs
- Strengthen our commitment to the regional, national and international community
Autisms Employment Toolkit
The Autism Centre for Research Employment (ACRE) focuses on conducting employment research and developing services to improve the job opportunities of people on the Autism Spectrum without, or with mild, learning disabilities. The Autism Employment Toolkit aims to introduce you, or the person you support, to the most relevant issues you need to know about when preparing, looking or staying at work.
Assessment: Individual employability and cognitive profiles
ACRE offers a comprehensive assessment service to autistic people in employment or actively seeking employment. The assessment covers different areas as Career Interests, Employability Skills, Executive functioning, Sensory Sensitivities and Social and Communication skills.
The assessment tools have been developed by the ACRE team specifically for work settings. The Individual Employment Profile report resulting from the assessment process offers information about the individual profile of the autistic person and also offers specific recommendations to employers regarding strengths and adaptations in the work place needed.
We provide specialist training to professionals from employment agencies, local authorities and charitable organisations. The training provided can be tailored to the particular organisation but will always be based on the best evidence research practice available as well as providing practical tips for supporting this population.
We also provide person-centred training to employers with the aim to create a supportive and productive working environment, and help to overcome any potential challenges that may arise in the initial stages of employment.
Can people on the Autism Spectrum 'read' other people on the Spectrum?
It has been long established that autistic people may find it difficult reading other people's emotions. Similarly, it has also been shown that non-autistic people have a limited understanding of the emotional reactions of people on the Autism Spectrum.
To date, however, there is little information about how communication works on mixed pairs of autistic and non-autistic people. This project aims to test precisely that. The outcome of this project will have important implications for workplace relations between employees on the Autism Spectrum and other workers.
The grant awarded from the Department of Health: Autism Innovation Fund to the Autism Centre for Research on Employment at the University of Portsmouth has been employed in the creation of an innovative cost-effective Profiling Assessment© service, developed to enhance the job prospects of people on the Autism Spectrum without learning disabilities.
The main outcomes of this project were:
(i) Production of employment and autism-specific Profiling Assessment© tools.
(ii) An evaluation report which demonstrated the cost-effectiveness of the PA© tools in increased rates of clients reporting that the employer had made the right adjustments.
(iii) Provision of fifteen work placements for people on the Autism Spectrum.
Evaluating the effectiveness of the Solent Get into Employment programme
This programme is supported by European Union, DWP, Princes Trust, Autism Hampshire and SCC. The programme focus is to inform, inspire and connect local employers, organisations who provide volunteer opportunities and training, employment agencies.
ACRE will conduct an research study to identify predictors of employment outcomes and to evaluate the impact of the programme on wellbeing and employment outcomes.
Milton, D., Gurbuz, E., Lopez, B. (2022) "The ‘double empathy problem’: ten years on", Autism
Evaluation of the ACE employment programme: helping employers to make tailored adjustments for their autistic employees
Lopez, B., Kargas, N., Udell, J., Rubin, T., Byrgess, L., Drew, D., McDonald, I., O'Brien, A., Templeton-Mepstead, K. (2021) "Evaluation of the ACE employment programme: helping employers to make tailored adjustments for their autistic employees", Advances in Autism
Factually based autism awareness campaigns may not always be effective in changing attitudes towards autism: evidence from British and South Korean nursing students
Mac Cárthaigh, S., Lopez, B. (2020) "Factually based autism awareness campaigns may not always be effective in changing attitudes towards autism: evidence from British and South Korean nursing students", Autism
Raymaker, D.M., Sharer, M., Maslak, J., Powers, L.E., McDonald, K.E., Kapp, S.K., Moura, I., Wallington, A.F., Nicolaidis, C. (2023) "“[I] don’t wanna just be like a cog in the machine”: Narratives of autism and skilled employment", Autism
Azevedo, F., Middleton, S., Mai Phan, J., Kapp, S.K., Gourdon-Kanhukamwe, A., Iley, B., Elsherif, M.M., Shaw, J.J. (2022) "Navigating academia as neurodivergent researchers: promoting neurodiversity within open scholarship", Association for Psychological Science
Exploring the career motivations, strengths, and challenges of autistic and non-autistic university students: insights from a participatory study
Cheriyan, C., Shevchuk-Hill, S., Riccio, A., Vincent, J., Kapp, S.K., Cage, E., Dwyer, P., Kofner, B., Attwood, H., Gillespie-Lynch, K. (2021) "Exploring the career motivations, strengths, and challenges of autistic and non-autistic university students: insights from a participatory study", Frontiers in Psychology
Learning from the experts: evaluating a participatory autism and universal design training for university educators
Waisman, T.C., Williams, Z.J., Cage, E., Santhanam, S.P., Magiati, I., Dwyer, P., Stockwell, K.M., Kofner, B. Brown, H., Davidson, D., Herrell, J., Shore, S.M., Caudel, D., Gurbuz, E., Gillespie-Lynch, K. (2023) "Learning from the experts: evaluating a participatory autism and universal design training for university educators", Autism