A study led by UK researcher Simon Baron-Cohen revealed that those with autism spectrum disorders often have excellent attention to detail that is directed towards detecting ‘if p, then q’ rules (or [input–operation–output] reasoning). It’s no secret that those with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome excel in technical fields and there are great efforts to place them in suitable employment.
While there are already companies that work to place people with developmental disabilities into the technology field, the newest player Square One has a different approach.
The software and design firm has a small pilot program working to design a software-testing training program for people on the autism spectrum. However, what is unusual about this program is that they are not using any funding or subsidies and have the bottom-line firmly in mind.
Currently a significant amount of software testing is outsourced to workers in the developing world. Square One co-founder Chad Hahn points out that his software testers will work for $15 to $20 an hour – pay comparable to, or even lower than, that of software testers in India, but with the benefit of being right here in the U.S. Hahn makes the case that there aren’t a lot of alternatives provided for people with autism —when they do find work, it’s usually unskilled work for minimum wage.
Hahn has had good feedback from parents of those with autism, who are supportive of the program if paying less makes hiring the developmentally disabled a viable option.
“I haven’t had one parent of an autistic child come to me and say this isn’t going to work,” he says. “They say, ‘This is a way for my child to make more money than they would have made otherwise, and allow them to be more independent.’ They worry, what is my child going to do when I’m gone? And this is kind of a way out.”
ICare4Autism also acknowledges the natural ability of those with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome to excel in the I.T. sector. Our autism workforce development initiative based out of our Global Autism Center in Jerusalem will work to assist students on the spectrum find high level career opportunities. The service will provide individuals with a customized job plan, job coach, skills training and ongoing on-the-job training and support. ICare4Autism is hoping to create a model that will be replicated internationally creating new high private sector opportunities world wide.
ICare4Autism’s workforce initiative, along with many other strategies in autism education, research and policy will be explored at our upcoming International Autism Conference – Autism: A Global Perspective on August 1st-2nd in Jersualem, Israel.