There are reasons why those on the spectrum often find it difficult to gain employment. Sometimes it’s because they don’t interview well—the interview process itself can generate considerable anxiety for many of them—but more often than not it’s because their talents and accomplishments often go unrecognized. The July 23rd online edition of Business Insider reports on a start-up that aims to change all that. ULTRA Testing was founded by two MIT graduates who are committed to the notion “that people with disabilities are likely to have hidden talents that others fail to notice”. Those on the spectrum often have set repetitive behaviors and sometimes thrive in repetitive tasks that others might find stultifying. They tend to have a sound sense of logical reasoning, to be superior at detecting patterns, and persevere at following a sequence of steps to its conclusion. To get a sense of how gifted those on the spectrum are in these areas, Anandan (one of the founders of ULTRA Testing) says that every tester he has hired has out-scored him on diagnostic tests of pattern recognition, and he has a Masters in Computer Science! All of these natural talents make those with high-functioning autism very desirable to high-tech employers like Ultra Testing, and they plan to grow their team of testers to 250 over the next three years.
At Village Glen, we too see the promise of those on the spectrum; we see the special talents and gifts that make them superlative candidates for careers in science and technology. What we do is support those skills, nurture and encourage them in classes like programming and robotics. Then, when the time comes for them to take the next step after graduation, they come to the table with valuable real-world experience already in hand.