April 10, 2015

microsoftRecently Microsoft announced a pilot program to hire autistic employees in their corporate headquarters. They are partnering with a Danish company, Specialisterne, to pair 10 autistic adults with openings at the company.

This is not the first tech company to use Specialisterne to find autistic employees who are able to provide exceptional attention to detail and concentration over long periods of time. Computer Aid, Inc and SAP have also hired autistic adults for their companies.

While coding, debugging or software testing may seem like a perfect fit for many autistic adults, not everyone wants to work with computers.

Autistic adults may be interested in one of the many other industries where attention to detail and ability to accurately perform repetitive tasks can be a significant asset. Industries such as medical billing, insurance, technical writing, lab technicians, accounting, actuary, architects and engineering are all careers where attention to detail is vital. Unfortunately autistic students who study in these areas and graduate with a college degree often are unable to get or hold a job in their chosen industry.

Autistic adults can struggle with getting a job due to difficulties in the interview process. They may not pick up on social cues, be able to answer questions quickly or have sensory processing issues that make the interview extremely difficult for them.

Microsoft’s pilot program may help other businesses learn how to make job interviews more effective for autistic adults. Creating standards for interviews and educating employees on how to ask questions and how to interact with autistic adults can help everyone involved in the process. Autistic candidates will be able to show their skills more effectively and everyone will benefit.

10 employees may not sound like a lot, but it is a pilot program. Advancing Futures for Adults With Autism estimates there are approximately 1.5 million autistic adults living in the United States. Estimates from the Autism Society state that as of June 2014 only 19.3 percent of people with disabilities in the United States were working or seeking work.

These statistics highlight the need for changes. Changes in how companies find, choose and train their employees as well as changes in the services available to help autistic adults manage this process. Changes in culture at companies is also essential. Training current employees on how to interact with autistic coworkers as well as providing training for autistic workers can help avoid issues that often cause autistic adults to lose jobs. This need is only going to grow as the millions of autistic children under the age of 22 get older, graduate from college and start looking for a job.

Read more about what one Canadian company is doing to help assist autistic adults find work.

About the author 

Dawn Marcotte

Dawn Marcotte is the CEO of WWW.ASD-DR.com, a website designed to help teens and young adults on the spectrum live to their highest potential.

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