In April 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released an update on just how prevalent autism is in American children. Through various records, their new estimate was a 15 percent increase from the report two years prior – that autism affects 1 in 59 children.
And once those children grow up, in can be difficult to find and keep a job. It’s so difficult, a recent survey found that more than two-thirds of adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder are unemployed or, at the very least, underemployed.
Still, there are many employers out there who are autism-friendly. And some only employ those with autism, like Auticon.
A company founded with a mission
Gary Benoist, a father of two autistic sons, founded a Los Angeles firm in 2013 called MindSpark. It was later acquired by German-based Auticon, an international IT service provider and the “first company in Germany to exclusively employ people on the autism spectrum as Technology consultants.”
Benoist wanted to make sure his sons would get the help they needed, no matter where they worked. But there were few options.
“Both are incredibly capable and smart and deserve an opportunity to be able to express that,” Benoist told the BBC. “I felt that the gap had to be filled and there was no other way to fill it than by taking action myself.”
The business is now 150 employees strong and one of his sons works in the finance department.
According to the BBC, if Auticon employees have noise sensitivity, they can use headphones. Or they can work in a dark room and communicate with other staff via messaging apps if they’re uncomfortable verbally.
How people with autism can find jobs
Anxiety is typically heightened in those with autism, so the prospect of an interview can be extremely intimidating. So, Auticon makes sure the hiring managers aren’t critical.
Microsoft also hires autistic workers. Other companies that employ those with austism like SAP, a German software firm, lets prospective candidates build Legos instead of going through a formal interview. It’s used as a way to determine the applicant’s problem-solving skills and commitment.
Auticon then holds a four-week training schedule to determine if prospects are suited for extended employment, according to the BBC.
Advocacy group Autism Speaks provides a number of resources on their websites to help: