3rd Annual Autism at Work Research Workshop

Call for Participation

The Autism at Work Research Workshop brings together leading scholars, employers, clinicians, service providers, entrepreneurs, caregivers, and autism advocates concerned with autism employment. Their work may relate to the preparation, recruitment, persistence, advancement, and management of autistic individuals in the workplace. Our objectives are to

  1. Build a community of people concerned with issues related to the preparation and employment of autistic individuals and convey these concerns to the others in the community
  2. Offer opportunities to connect practitioners with researchers to develop or evaluate supports for the employment of autistic individuals
  3. Provide a collaborative space for scholars to share their work and receive constructive feedback in order to advance autism employment research
  4. Further develop a research agenda to advance evidence-based practices to equitably include individuals with autism in the workplace

Ways to Participate in the Research Workshop

Workshop participants must be 18 years of age or older.

Registration is now closed.

To participate in the research workshop, please register here by Friday, April 9, 2021.

Preparation Required of Workshop Participants

To create a sense of community and engage in meaningful dialogue about our research relating to employment of people with autism, we ask each participant of Days 2 and 3 of the Research Workshop to give a short 2-minute “Lightning Talk.” Details of this presentation and template slides will be sent to you upon acceptance.


The workshop will run over three days, each with its own agenda.

  • Day 1: Community Building and Setting the Agenda (Open to all)
      • This day will include a set of talks and panels given by employers, autism self-advocates, community leaders, entrepreneurs, and academics about the state of autism employment and their priorities for its future. There will be an online social event following this day’s activities.
    Time Session Title
    11:00am PDT Introduction and Keynote
    11:05am PDT Keynote – Michael Bernick

    • The State of Autism Employment
    11:25am PDT Autism Self-Advocate Panel

    • Paulette Penzvalto
    • Aparna Kommineni
    • Jason Lehmann
    • Scott Karp
    11:50am PDT Breakout Session
    12:05pm PDT Break
    12:15pm PDT Employer Panel

    • Neil Barnett, Microsoft
    • Teresa Thomas, Mitre
    • Brad Cohen, Aspiritech
    • Rajesh Anandan, Ultra Testing
    12:35pm PDT Higher Education Panel

    • Lee Burdette Williams, College Autism Network (NASPA)
    • Sara Sanders Gardner, Bellevue College, Neurodiversity Navigators Program
    • Thomas Beeson, Clemson University, Spectrum Program
    • Lynn Gallagher, Loras University
    • Nancy Forsythe, University of Maryland
    12:55pm PDT Break
    1:05pm PDT Facilitating Autistic Employee Inclusion in the Workplace Panel

    • Kate Broeking, The How Skills Center
    • Laura Weldon, Weldon Wellness
    • Katie Oswald, Full Spectrum Agency for Autistic Adults
    • Jennifer Sarrett, Emory University
    • Sally Lindsay, University of Toronto
    1:25pm PDT Breakout Session
    1:40pm PDT High School Autism and Inclusion Contest Winners
    1:55pm PDT Conclusion
    2:00pm PDT Break
    2:10pm PDT Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center: Meaningful Connections
    Sensory-friendly Chamber Music Concert (30 minutes)
    Day 1 Workshop Schedule
  • Day 2: Research Opportunity and Development
    • On this day, clinicians, service providers, entrepreneurs, and researchers will come with ideas about potential research project proposals and connect with researchers to plan collaborations.
Time Session Title
11:00am PDT Introduction
11:05am PDT Lightning Talks (About Me)
11:45pm PDT Discussion
12:10pm PDT Break
12:20pm PDT Research Proposals
1:15pm PDT Break
1:25pm PDT Breakout Sessions
1:50pm PDT Conclusion
Day 2 Workshop Schedule
  • Day 3: Deep Dive into Research
    • This day will give researchers an opportunity to introduce themselves and their work, discuss their research agenda, and present their recent work. There will also be round table discussions of research ideas, along with extended abstracts and research-in progress submissions.
Time Session Title
11:00am PDT Introduction
11:05am PDT Paper Presentations (3 completed studies)
12:05pm PDT Break
12:15pm PDT Paper Presentations (2 completed studies)
12:55pm PDT Break
1:05pm PDT Discussion

  • Research observations
  • Emerging trends
  • Setting the research agenda
1:30pm PDT Discussion

  • Moving towards a social model of disability
  • Increasing representation and ownership for autistic people in research
1:45pm PDT Attendee feedback
1:55pm PDT Conclusion
Day 3 Workshop Schedule


Day 1 is open to anyone 18 years or older with no submission requirement.

To obtain admission for Days 2 and 3, you must submit a paper with your research ideas and proposals, extended abstracts, or research-in-progress related to employment of individuals with autism and have this submission accepted by the organizers. This work may include research focusing on the preparation, recruitment, persistence, and advancement of individuals with autism in the workplace. Submitted research and proposals can be conceptual, analytical, design-oriented, or empirical in nature. One goal of the workshop is to provide an opportunity to receive constructive feedback to advance and improve your work.

We welcome contributions in the following forms:

  • Research-in-progress papers (3-5 pages)
  • Extended abstracts (2 pages)
  • Research ideas and proposals (1 page)

All submissions will be reviewed by co-chairs for topical fit related to autism employment.

Submissions are now closed.

Deadline Extended!

Submissions for the Research Workshop are DUE by 5pm PDT, Friday March 26, 2021.

Authors will be notified of decisions by Friday April 2, 2021. Acceptance notifications will include the link to register for Days 2 and 3 of the workshop. 

Submission Instructions

Papers should be submitted electronically to https://cmt3.research.microsoft.com/AWRW2021/.

If you have never used the CMT paper submission system before, please click on the Register link next to “New to CMT?” to create an account. If you already have an account, please enter your email address and password to login. Then press the “Create new submission” button at the upper left of the Author Console to create a new paper. Choose Research Workshop Paper Submissions from the pulldown menu. Submission filenames should include the first author’s last name and AWRW2021 e.g., Annabi-AWRW2021.pdf. In the case of multiple submissions, add a number to the last name e.g., Annabi2-AWRW2021.pdf. Questions regarding submissions should be directed to the Autism at Work Research Workshop Chairs by email.

Papers should be single-spaced with font size of 11-12 points. All submissions must include a title, list of authors’ names, affiliations, and email addresses, and an abstract. Page limits include all figures and tables; however, references may extend onto additional pages. Submissions must be written in English and be provided in PDF or Microsoft Word formats.

High School Autism and Inclusion Contest

High School Autism and Inclusion Competition

Autistic high school students (ages 14-21) are encouraged to create an original submission describing “what autism and inclusion in employment means to me.” The conference organizers have commissioned a committee of autism self-advocates to select the winning entries that best represent the prompt. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes, sponsored by Microsoft, will be awarded to the students based on clarity, creativity, and originality. In addition, contest winners will receive free tickets to attend Day 1 of the Autism at Work Research Workshop and present their work to the other attendees.

Entries may be in the form of 1-2 page written essays, 2-3 minute videos, or artistic drawings.

  • Written essays should be single-spaced with a font size of 11 or 12 points and should include the author’s name and email address.
  • Videos should be published on YouTube with their URL submitted as your entry. The author should state their name in the video.
  • Artistic drawings may be a maximum of 4096 x 4096 pixels, should be “signed” by the author, and be submitted in PNG format.

Entries by any contestant under the age of majority (18 or 19 depending on local laws) must be submitted by their parent or legal guardian.


1st Place: Torin Reese: Autism and Inclusion in the Workforce

2nd Place: Ryan Griswold: Climbing the Hill and Taking the Big Drop into Working at Kings Island Amusement Park

3rd Place: Cree Costello:

The submission deadline has passed.

Submissions were due by 11:59pm PDT, Friday April 2, 2021.

For complete contest rules, please see the Autism at Work Research Workshop – Autism and Inclusion Contest Official Rules.


Each winning contest entry also receives free registration to Day 1 of the Autism at Work Research Workshop and an opportunity to present their entry at the Workshop.


Winners will be notified by April 9, 2021 and announced publicly at the Workshop. We hope all contestants and their parents, legal guardians, or caregivers will attend Day 1 of the Workshop.

Music Performance

Advertisement for the Sensory-friendy chamber music performance.

Please join us for this 30-minute Sensory Friendly Chamber Music Performance by students in the University of Maryland School of Music. Performance runs from 2:10pm – 2:40pm PDT, April 20, 2021. Only those registered for Day 1 of the workshop may attend.

What to expect

  • There will be a brief introduction of vocabulary at the beginning of the presentation and sound-sensory alerts throughout the presentation, as audio can sometimes be unpredictable.
  • The musicians will introduce each of their instruments and what it means to play “chamber music.”
  • They will also talk about the different ways musicians communicate with each other.
  • Alongside this, the musicians will talk about the different ways everyone can listen to and engage with music with stories and emotions.
  • Everyone involved is encouraged to listen to and interact with the music in the way that is best for them – Any, and all movement is encouraged!