Viola Sommer is Head of Operations at Auticon, a company which employs adults on the autistic spectrum as IT consultants. She explains how autistic adults' distinctive cognitive abilities can make them genuine assets to a UK IT sector gripped by a skills shortage.
The ongoing skills shortage poses a tremendous challenge to UK businesses. The 2015 UKCES Employer Skills Survey reported a severe lack of skilled workers, a problem with particular impact in the IT sector. At the same time, many autistic adults are finding it difficult to secure employment, despite often being highly qualified. In fact, only 15% of autistic adults in the UK are employed full-time. Autistic adults often have extraordinary cognitive abilities – many of which are directly suited to the demands of technology projects.
At Auticon, we’ve found that autistic adults can excel as IT consultants, proving genuine assets for established and high-performing enterprises. Autistic team members can be highly skilled in the following areas – often outperforming their non-autistic co-workers.
Most Auticon consultants are astoundingly good at deducing or recognising patterns. They are able to see correlations and interdependencies in large amounts of data – a skill that's incredibly useful in IT jobs, as well as many other professions.
Innovative problem solving
Autistic adults often think outside socially conditioned thought patterns. Employing people with autism opens up new perspectives for teams and introduces a valuable alternative point-of-view.
One of the most notable strengths of adults with Asperger syndrome (a form of 'high functioning autism') is the ability to think logically. This frequently goes hand-in-hand with being mathematically or scientifically gifted.
Concentration and perseverance
Many autistic individuals can stay focused on tasks for astonishing lengths of time. This perseverance and ability to concentrate remains consistent even across routine and repetitive tasks.
Adults with Asperger syndrome tend to have one or more particular areas of interest and become experts, gathering an impressive volume of factual knowledge.
Autistic individuals often prefer concentrating on the task at hand rather than emotional or social matters. Conversations frequently focus on assignments or facts rather than topics not directly related to work.
Many autistic individuals are lateral thinkers and able to cross-connect seemingly unrelated information, creating original and creative solutions for challenges at hand.
Truthfulness and sincerity are distinctive autistic traits. It is, however, a myth that people with autism cannot lie. Most simply do not see the purpose in untruths and have a pronounced passion for fact and honesty.
Precision and bottom-up thinking style
Autistic employees show great attention to detail and tend to be perfectionists. Their differential processing style often yields invaluable additional information.
Of course, employers shouldn’t expect ‘Rain Men’ – but adults on the autism spectrum do tend to have unique strengths that non-autistic adults don’t have. To learn more about the benefits of employing autistic team members, visit our website or get in touch.
Auticon is an award-winning IT B2B consulting business. All Auticon consultants are on the autism spectrum and we pride ourselves in creating autism-friendly work environments, as well as delivering outstanding quality to our clients.