It is great to see all these autism employment and spectrum programs helping neurodiverse individuals get into work, but I have noticed a distinct LEAN towards information technology and engineering roles. Yes, we are talented individuals. Yes, we want jobs. Though… Ummm, autistic doesn’t automatically mean ‘good at math’.
I think it’s important to remember that for every savant kid with autism, there are literally thousands and thousands of others with learning difficulties. One such learning difficulty involves challenges understanding and “seeing” numbers. This is “dyscalculia”. It can best be described as the “maths version of dyslexia”; numbers get muddled up and doing mathematics is like trying to interpret an alien language.
For some autistics, math just isn’t an option.
So, what about getting an IT or engineering job? Can you do it with dyscalculia? Well, I guess you can; it just depends on how bad your learning difficulty is and how much you want to work in the field (In fact, I know an autistic lady who has dyscalculia and now works for Google. At university, she spent significant time studying maths with professors, focusing her mind, to be able to succeed at this). My point, however, is that for some autistics, math just isn’t an option. For some, math is near impossible, because, I hear autistics say “my brain doesn’t work that way”. These individuals have other talents.
So what’s up with all these IT jobs then, huh?
I think what the companies Apple, SAP, Microsoft, Google, HP, ANZ Bank, Westpac Bank and New Relic have in mind is that autism = detail-oriented methodical problem solving. And in many ways, they are spot on. Most autistics DO have these key traits, so it seems natural then that an autistic would be good at software testing (to find errors) or coding or cyber security roles.
Yet, it is also a bit shortsighted and a little on the “stereotyping” angle. Not all autistics are good at mathematics or IT. I mean, just because a lot of African and African Americans are fast runners and brilliant basketball players, does not mean all of them are… or that all of them even want to be a sportsperson! We need to remember that all people and thus all autistics come in different packages. We all have different skills to offer.
What we need is…
I think it is great that we are seeing recruitment platforms for neurodiverse workers and also that there is interest in our talent and abilities. Yet I’d love to see more job boards and programs that seek out other kinds of autistic skill levels…
What about the artists, writers, sculptors, musicians? What about the counsellors, teachers, coaches? What about the mechanics? What about the chess players? What about the financial market buffs? Or those who excel in old Latin, have a passion for papercraft, or hold immense knowledge of Tesla cars? I think a program that harnesses THESE talents might do better.
Imagine all the good autistics can do with all their amazing knowledge and talents put into action! WOW!
We need more universal recruitment platforms, and you know, I have created just that. Mmm, over the past few months, at my work, we have been developing a job seeker platform for autistics and others with neurodiversity to find meaningful work. I am so proud of this, and I know that me talkign about it here, on my blog might seem very marketing-esque of me, but I wanted to share something good.
If you’re neurodiverse, seeking employment, and want to showcase your skills, head on over to https://www.aspiesatwork.org/ and register.
I am so excited about the site. We are looking forward to getting everyone a chance to shine at work, and be seen TRULY and wholeheartedly as the amazing neurodivergent individuals they are! ❤