"Coding Autism" Addresses Underemployment

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 06: A New York Labor Department office is viewed in Manhattan on March 6, 2015 in New York City. Beating expectations, the Labor Department reported on Friday that employers added 295,000 workers in February. The robust numbers brough

A lot of people on the spectrum naturally are more behind the scenes workers that have characterizes from attention to detail to a fascination with repetitive tasks that  align exceptionally for certain roles.  For example you think of your typical quality assurance software tester or a software engineer who's looking at numbers all day. -Oliver Thornton, Coding Autism

With the rise in the number of Americans diagnosed with autism there is a growing need to adapt our schools, our communities and our workplaces to include individuals who are on the Autism Spectrum.

Oliver Thornton knows something about this.  He says his autism required a few adjustments along the path he took to graduate from college. But Thornton is capitalizing on his experiences and is now the co-founder of Coding Autism.

Thornton and co-founder Austen Weinhart (who also has family experience with autism) started Coding Autism to train adults on the autism spectrum in professional skills such as software engineering, quality assurance, and web development.  

In this podcast Thornton talks about Coding Autism and the role Human Resources plays.

Thornton and Weinhart know there is a need to expand job markets for people with autism; equally important, they know there is a need among tech firms to fill jobs that some people with autism would excel at. 

According to Coding Autism:

  • In the United States today, there are over 4 million individuals with autism: roughly 3 million being children and 1 million being adults.
  • Out of all the adults on the autism spectrum, over 80% of them are either unemployed or underemployed.
  • 66% of all high school graduates both do not continue their education or obtain a job within 2 years after their high school graduation.

Meanwhile, they say research has shown that typical autistic characteristics such as attention to detail, affinity for repetitive tasks and introversion are all traits that lend themselves to becoming a successful employee within the tech industry. With the $50k+ average annual salary for entry-level, full-time web developers, tech is an attractive industry in which to pursue a career.

Thornton says over the last decade, companies such as Microsoft and SAP have implemented autism hiring initiatives. He says this was not done to combat autistic unemployment, but because they have seen that adults with autism can be exceptional employees and drive innovation when provided the right structure, mentorship and on-boarding.

Want to learn more? Check our: http://www.CodingAutism.com.

Photos by Getty Images.

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