The Autistic and Tech Jobs -- An Ideal Marriage?

Susan Hall

I’ve been seeing a rash of articles lately advocating that people with autism can be successful in tech jobs.

Their strengths — such as logical thinking and a high ability to focus – can be a boon in jobs such as software testing, according to The Baltimore Sun.

Though a mild type of autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, is widely believed to be rife among IT workers – explaining why many are socially awkward – those with classic autism often have substantial language delays as well as social and communication challenges.

The program highlighted in the Sun story is still in its formative stages, though it says employers and advocates are optimistic it will be successful.

Meanwhile, software vendor SAP is teaming up with Specialisterne, an organization focused on employing people with autism to place people as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists.

The pact follows successful pilots in India and Ireland, according to Silicon Republic. It quotes Luisa Delgado, member of the SAP executive board, as saying:

“By concentrating on the abilities that every talent brings to the table, we can redefine the way we manage diverse talents.

“With Specialisterne, we share a common belief that innovation comes from the ‘edges.’ Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century.”

Specialisterne originated in Denmark, but now also operates in the UK, the United States, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Iceland and Poland.

Though not specifically about autism, the unemployment rate for people with disabilities is 14 percent, according to the Autism Society. The overall U.S. unemployment rate was 7.5 percent in April.

However, only 21 percent of adults with disabilities participate in the labor force as compared with 69 percent of the non-disabled population.

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