Achieving financial wellbeing for autistic individuals
Financial wellbeing is an important component of people’s overall wellbeing, reflecting the capacity to live a comfortable and fulfilling life. Although there is a growing literature on the financial wellbeing of non-autistic people, the financial wellbeing of autistic people and the factors that affect it has not attracted the same attention. This study sought to address this gap. We achieved this in two ways. First, in Phase 1, we conducted a large-scale survey with 191 Australian autistic adults to examine their objective financial wellbeing, including income and savings levels and their subjective sense of their financial wellbeing. In Phase 2, we identified people who had rated themselves as having particularly high or low financial wellbeing to be interviewed in order to understand in greater depth the subjective experiences of financial wellbeing among autistic people. Twenty-one people generously agreed to be interviewed.
Our survey revealed that autistic people’s sense of financial wellbeing is determined both by how much income they have at their disposal and the ways in which they are able to use that income, just like those in the general population. Our participants’ financial wellbeing, on average, was lower than those in the general population. Our Phase 2 interview-based results showed further the toll that low financial wellbeing can have on people’s mental health and wellbeing. These difficulties came despite the fact that many were extremely disciplined in their accounting and budgeting strategies, and that people worked hard to find financial security.
- Liz Pellicano, Macquarie University