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 Computer Science Lab

By Alex Antunes

Discussion of the rise in diagnosed autism is a controversial topic, and I applaud one company that is sidestepping the entire ‘why’ and ‘who is at fault’ issue and tackling it like good capitalists. MSNBC writes about Aspiritech’s program for training autistics in comp sci — specifically the area of software testing, bug discovery, and data accuracy.  They write:

“Autism seen as asset, not liability, in some jobs. A new movement helps hone unique traits of disorder into valuable skills […] now some revolutionary companies see autism as something else: a resource.”


This is progressive stuff.  They seem to be focusing primarily on people with Asperger Syndrome. Asperger Syndrome is often called a form of high-functioning autism, and Dr. Asperger termed his original child patients “little professors” because of their outlook.  There are many fields where people with Asperger Syndrome can not just ‘function’ (blah) but excel.  Dan Shiovitz of Marchex in the same article notes:

While traits of “detail focus, willingness to repeat tasks and technical aptitude are ones we look for in testers, testing has a lot of creative work,” he notes. Testers need to be able to figure out possible solutions to problems and be agile enough to change plans at the last minute or deal with sudden new requirements.


The best definition I can provide of being an Aspie (someone with Aspergers) is that issues like social interaction are harder to learn intuitively, while issues that other people find hard (memorization, categorization and morphology, and detail-oriented work) come easily.  Most people find physics hard and cocktail parties easy; Aspies have the reverse.

There are also issues dealing with change, preference for repetition over novelty, and a wide variety of co-morbid conditions.  For a good understanding of the autism spectrum, you can visit WrongPlanet, bearing in mind the wide variety that the spectrum covers and the truism “if you’ve met one Aspie, you’ve met one Aspie.”

Read in Full:  http://www.scientificblogging.com/daytime_astronomer/autism_computer_science



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