Individuals on the autism spectrum are a largely untapped talent pool. Reuters reports that globally there are an estimated 70 million individuals on the autism spectrum. Up to eighty percent of these individuals are unemployed or severely underemployed.
Several large employers have initiatives to hire individuals on the autism spectrum. SAP, Microsoft, EY, and JPMorgan Chase belong to the Autism @ Work Employer Roundtable. These companies have all had their autism hiring programs in place for over a year and have seen a positive impact on their businesses. They want to work together to increase the employment rate for individuals on the autism spectrum (Reuters, 2019).
HP, Salesforce, Towers Watson, Deloitte, Dell, and Google are among the other corporations that have programs in place. While individuals on the autism spectrum excel in many fields, most of these recruiting efforts have concentrated on technical positions.
Q: Why have these large employers pursued individuals on the autism spectrum?
A: There is a shortage of graduates with computer science-related skills. There will be approximately 1.1 million computing-related jobs by 2024. U.S. graduation rates are not keeping pace with the demand. “We need to think differently about attracting talent,” says Lou Candiello, head of military and disability recruiting programs at Dell (Reuters, 2019).
The strengths of individuals on the autism spectrum appeal to employers that need to add more technical staff to their workforces. There are numerous individuals on the autism spectrum who have college degrees and graduate degrees in these fields or the aptitude to do well in these jobs.
Q: What are the strengths of individuals on the autism spectrum that apply to computer science related work?
A: SAP was one of the first large companies to recognize the strengths of individuals on the autism spectrum and to actively recruit this group. ERE is the organization that set up SAP’s program. Their representative stated, “We can capture the inherent abilities that are often associated with people on the autism spectrum—the ability to spot deviations in data, information, and systems. These employees frequently have high diligence and a low tolerance for mistakes, as well as a strong affinity with predictable, structured, process-oriented environments that results in strong process optimization capabilities” (DW, 2019).
Employees on the autism spectrum remain highly focused on their work and can be more productive than neurotypical employees. This degree of focus is critical to success with detail-oriented work.
“Our autistic employees achieve, on average, 48% to 140% more work than their typical colleagues, depending on the roles. They are highly focused and less distracted by social interactions,” stated James Mahoney, Executive Director and head of Autism at Work at Chase (Fortune, 2018).
Q: What are some of the other positive attributes of employees on the autism spectrum?
A: They’re dedicated to the mastery of their area of interest and will concentrate on it to great lengths despite any difficulties they encounter. They will invest incredible amounts of time and effort to become a subject matter expert within that field.
Individuals on the autism spectrum also have amazing memories because they are so tuned in to details. They often have better memories than their typical peers. Some individuals on the spectrum have photographic memories (VeryWell Health, 2019).
Individuals on the autism spectrum can “think outside the box.” Because their thought processes vary from the thought processes of their neurotypical peers, they can offer different perspectives and solutions to challenges encountered during their work. These new perspectives can be very valuable in the workplace.
Q: With all of the positives that individuals on the spectrum can offer a company, why haven’t they been hired more often?
A: Many individuals on the autism spectrum are very intelligent and high functioning. Where they experience difficulty is with social niceties such as shaking hands, making eye contact, and making small talk. These are not skills that are essential to many jobs, but often cause them to be screened out during the interview process (BBC, 2016).
Traditional approaches to recruiting have often filtered these individuals out. Interviewing emphasizes social weaknesses. Many candidates are eliminated before they can discuss the expertise or ability to do the job.
Watch for part two of this article, which discusses more effective approaches to recruiting and interviewing individuals on the autism spectrum.
Do you need a professional writer to work on a project for your organization?
Why work with me? Do you want to work with a writer who understands the issues that your clients and their families experience? Do you want to work with someone who speaks their language—and yours?
I’m the mother of a 25-year-old daughter on the autism spectrum, a masters-level nurse trained as a nurse educator, and a psychiatric nurse with over nine years of healthcare experience.
This makes me the ideal writer to develop targeted sales copy and marketing content for your autism, mental health, or behavioral health organization.
Resources/Links Supporting This Article
Alsop, R. (2016). Are autistic individuals the best workers around? BBC. Retrieved from www.bbc.com/capital/story/20160106-model-employee-are-autistic-individuals-the-best-workers-around
DW. (2019). Autistic people are attractive employees. Retrieved from https://www.dw.com/en/autistic-people-are-attractive-employees/a-48151743
Eng, D. (2018). Where autistic workers thrive. Fortune. Retrieved from fortune.com/2018/06/24/where-autistic-workers-thrive
Pinsker, B. (2019). Autism in the workplace: A spectrum of hiring choices. Reuters. Retrieved from https://reuters.com/article/us-world-work-autismatwork/autism-in-in-the-workplace-a-spectrum-of-hiring-choices-idUSKCN1SD0YB
Rudy, L. (2019). Top 10 positive traits of people: What are the best aspects of autism? Verywell Health. Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/top-terrific-traits-of-autistic-people-260321