As this blog and many others prove, autism is being researched and reported on every day. Most of the time this research focuses on treating this condition which is often described as an ‘epidemic.’
Articles that place autism in a positive light are often written by a parent or guardian introducing the public to their child. Not to say this subject matter is bad- autism is still very mysterious so it helps to raise awareness. But very few achieve what Ivan Zytynski has in his article, “A Waste of Talent, Making Space for Autism in Engineering.” The writer does this by pointing out that people with autism are valuable in a skilled working environment, not just to who know them and about their condition. The author isn’t just a parent but also an employer, and one who is excited about the possibility of hiring someone with autism. This perspective be refreshing and motivating in itself.
In essence this is a piece that explains just how valuable someone you know may be in the sciences especially engineering. The writer discusses the possibility that famous scientists, including Einstein and Newton, may have had autism spectrum disorder. He also discusses the life and success of Temple Grandin, an influential animal scientist who has autism herself. The reason that the engineering field should have places for skilled workers with autism has to do with the unique autistic brain capabilities.
There are three qualities Zyntynski mentions that make an autistic person an asset in this field. First, a person with autism tends to think very visually. They can ‘see’ an entire design in their heads before sketching it out. Secondly, employees with autism see the world differently, so their perspective can help the average engineer approach challenges from new angles. An intense ability to focus can be another huge asset as long as the workplace is willing to be accommodating.
With the number of companies already who have telecommuters, it is becoming easier to create flexible with working hours, while and giving employees clear directions and the freedom to think for themselves. However, people with on the autistic spectrum (and the special community in general) are greatly underemployed and many do not hold jobs at all. If you had a brain like someone with autism and you happened to be ‘normal’ yet weren’t able to use your abilities no one would question what an asset a company would be missing. With a few small changes to a working environment, everyone can benefit disabled and normal alike. Doesn’t that give you hope?
Melanie L. Reach