With a little understanding the technology sector is the perfect fit for those with Autism.
What do Bill Gates, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein have in common? They were all visionaries who achieved more in their lifetime than most, and all three were reported to have Autism. Luckily for them and us, their strengths outshone any weaknesses brought about by their condition and they were able to thrive through their work.
For most people in the IT industry, it is more likely they have worked with or are working with people who have autism than in any other industry. They may describe their autistic colleagues as having strong attention to detail, being very honest in discussion and having a fantastic ability to remember information.
Michael Fieldhouse, founder of the Dandelion Project, an initiative that helps people of the autism spectrum find employment in cyber security, data analytics and software testing said that “we have to get better at tapping untapped talent pools to fill our needs” and that aligning autistic strengths to IT orientated jobs is a “win-win situation” for the company and the individual .
Recent hiring of autistic people for cyber-security related roles at ANZ was commented on by autism researcher Professor Cheryl Dissanayake from La Trobe University who mentioned that “the attention to detail, the looking for information, for detailed information, for variations in code, is critical” and that “many people with autism have very good skills to bring into that”  .
Understanding Autistic Challenges
Despite the many positives that an autistic person can bring to the workplace, often they face many challenges before they even start thinking about work.
Some of the challenges of the autistic people face:
- Perceiving emotions of other people
- Following unwritten social rules
- Expressing feelings in a way people would understand or expect
- Unbalanced skillsets
- Difficulty with motivation levels
- Summarising spoken information
Subsequently, it is difficult for people with Autism to gain and maintain employment. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, “the unemployment rate for people with autism spectrum disorders was 31.6%, more than three times the rate for people with a disability (10.0%) and almost six times the rate of people without disability (5.3%)” .