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A Portland State University researcher with autism has received two federal grants for $467,000 to study autism in the workplace.

Dora Raymaker, an assistant research professor in the School of Social Work's Regional Research Institute, will lead a study to determine what helps people with autism do well professionally and develop a plan to improve their careers.

Her research team plans to interview 95 people, including people with autism and their co-workers.

Raymaker said before finding an academic home at PSU, she faced discrimination, multiple career shifts and a disability services system often ill-equipped to provide support in skilled settings.

"I want to make the way easier for people who come after me," she said. "This is not only a culmination of my life, but it's also something incredibly important for the community."

Raymaker received a two-year $417,285 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health and a $50,000 pilot grant from PSU's BUILD EXITO, an undergraduate research training program funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Raymaker started the Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education (AASPIRE) with Christina Nicolaidis, a social work professor at PSU and a physician at Oregon Health & Science University, 10 years ago to fill the gap between what the autistic community wanted from research and what researchers were delivering, according to a statement from PSU.

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