The Autism Advantage

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
The Autism Advantage
Fri, 11-30-2012 - 2:18pm

I wanted to pass along this great article from the New York Times magazines on businesses realizing that autistic adults are better at performing certain jobs and tasks,  and how they are utilizing them in their companies:

As capitalism has grown more adept at disaggregating tasks, workers can focus on what they do best, and managers are challenged to make room for brilliant, if difficult, outliers. This march toward greater specialization, combined with the pressing need for expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, so-called STEM workers, suggests that the prospects for autistic workers will be on the rise in the coming decades. If the market can forgive people’s weaknesses, then they will rise to the level of their natural gifts.

Read the full article at:

I hope that the business model that they are bringing to the US is successful, it's made such a difference in their lives and has benefitted the companies as well.   Do you think that more companies, especially in the technical field, should consider hiring autistic adults to perform the types of tasks discussed in the article?

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004
Sun, 12-02-2012 - 10:25am

I read this article as well.  I was very mixed about the whole thing.  I was excited that the company hires ASD individuals specifically.  It seems to team the person with a team member who helps with some of the social situations.  He is right in that in the technical field, there are some jobs which are incredibly monotonous, but must be done.  The high repetitive nature of the job itself makes it a great opportunity for ASD.

The parts that bothered me was that even he was picking cream of the crop.  I wonder how many of his individuals were high functioning enough they would have found a job anyway.  I was a little disturbed even his own son would not qualify for a job within his company. 

Working within the US, I am not sure how the model will work.  Europeans have a lot of employee protections which make it difficult for individuals to lose a job once they have it.  They also have different work hours (usually 35 hours per week instead of 40) and they have a LOT more holidays.  The employees there receive benefits even if they work part time.  I think some of the benefits are provided by the government.  So there is a lot of flexibility there to work with people who struggle working the strict 9-5.  For it to work here AND provide the benefits needed, the company would need to be very focused on employees and not stockholders.  It might be difficult to maintain in the US.

I am excited that someone is at least trying to help the situation.  I also like that even if he's targeting the cream of the crop, there is a cascade effect which will hopefully make more ASD individuals employable overall.  Every bit helps.

The part that struck me most about the whole story was the applicant who built his Lego life.  He had walls up everywhere.  There was one side with a half-wall and a woman with a ponytail.  She was his mom and the only one allowed within the walls.  He could not break down the walls because it was not safe outside the walls.  That story resonated very strongly with me.  When everything is falling apart, when the world is scary, when life is more than can be handled - it wasn't the therapists who could reach him, it wasn't the doctors.  It was the mother.  People don't give moms enough credit.

I really hope his business model can survive our culture.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-17-2004
Sun, 12-02-2012 - 1:13pm

Here is another article on job fields that are good.  The focus is on Aspie's.  In our area, Aspie and HF ASD are interchangable.  Hopefully it will start a lot of conversation...'