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Attitudes to interpersonal touch in the workplace in autistic and non-autistic groups

Attitudes to interpersonal touch in the workplace in autistic and non-autistic groups

Penton, Tegan, Bowling, Natalie ORCID: 0000-0001-5784-3664, Vafeiadou, Aikaterini, Hammond, Claudia, Bird, Geoffrey and Banissy, Michael (2022) Attitudes to interpersonal touch in the workplace in autistic and non-autistic groups. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. ISSN 0162-3257 (In Press) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-022-05710-z)

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Abstract

Unemployment and underemployment have consistently been shown to be higher in autistic adults relative to non-autistic adults. This may be due, in part, to a lack of workplace accommodations being made for autistic people. One factor that may contribute to employment inequalities in autistic people is differences in attitudes towards interpersonal touch. This study acts as a preliminary investigation into whether employed autistic and non-autistic participants differ in their attitudes towards touch in the workplace, and in their loneliness and wellbeing. The current dataset was drawn from a larger online survey (the Touch Test) designed to explore attitudes and experiences towards touch. We found that employed autistic participants had more negative attitudes to general, social and workplace touch relative to non-autistic participants. Autistic participants also experienced greater loneliness and reduced wellbeing. Attachment-related anxiety was the only significant predictor of wellbeing in employed autistic adults. However, attachment-related anxiety, general attitudes to touch and the role of touch in the workplace predicted wellbeing in employed non-autistic adults. With regards to loneliness, general attitudes to touch and the role of touch in the workplace predicted loneliness in autistic participants. We also replicated the finding that a greater proportion of autistic participants were unemployed relative to non-autistic participants. Collectively, this research highlights the importance of considering touch in research investigating employment, and its impact on loneliness and wellbeing, in autistic participants.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Autism, Touch, Workplace, Loneliness, Wellbeing, Attachment style
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Human Sciences (HUM)
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2022 09:19
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/37464

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