Autism & Diversity

Diversity in the modern working world has many dimensions: Gender, culture, nationality, sexual orientation or age. Another aspect is neurodiversity, which can be of great benefit in everyday project work, especially for companies facing the challenges of digitization. Neurodiversity is defined as teams supplemented by “neuro-untypical” members, for example by people on the autism spectrum. Autism often brings with it some challenges: the so-called innate deviation of information processing influences a person’s perception, cognition and emotions. Although many autistic people have enormous cognitive strengths, high intelligence and outstanding qualifications, they are often very sensitive to irritation, have little understanding of non-verbal signals, cannot tolerate eye and body contact well and feel uncomfortable with small talk. These challenges make it difficult for them to enter the world of work and everyday life: only around 15 to 20% of autistic people in the United States work in the job market. Things are no different in most other countries.

But autistic people can be very valuable in social and economic life and achieve outstanding and exceptional work results – if they are integrated systematically and unerringly into existing teams and processes.

But what exactly is autism?
Autism is a congenital deviation of information processing and influences the perception, cognition, and emotions of a person. The World Health Organization summarizes the different autism spectrum diagnoses under the term ‘neurodevelopmental disorders’. However, the term ‘disorder’ is increasingly replaced by the notion of ‘neurodiversity’. This approach recognizes that autism isn’t a disease but rather a demographic on a par with ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. An autism spectrum diagnosis includes the following criteria:

  • (Qualitative) differences in social interaction
  • (Qualitative) differences in communication
  • Limited, repetitive or stereotyped behaviors, interests or activities

According to UN estimates, there are about 67 million autistic people worldwide (about 1% of the world population).

The autism spectrum

As autism affects each individual differently, we refer to an autism spectrum. Just like any non-autistic, each person on the autism spectrum has a unique profile of characteristics. It can sometimes be hard to believe that two autistic persons should have the same diagnosis as signs and symptoms can vary considerably. Their often exceptional personalities and biographies are what makes auticon consultants one-of-a-kind.

A red circle inscribed with "If you know one autistic person, you know exactly one autistic person!"

The strengths of autistic people are very individual, but often include:

  • distinctive logical and analytical abilities
  • sustained concentration and perseverance even when tasks are repetitive
  • conscientiousness, loyalty and sincerity
  • an exceptional eye for details, deviations and potential errors
  • continuously thorough target/actual comparisons and a genuine awareness for quality
  • a strong interest in factual matters and comprehensive technical expertise

In concrete terms this means, for example…

A different point of view
People on the autism spectrum perceive things differently than non-autistics. Non-autistic persons usually perceive holistically and subsequently break perceptual input down into singular modules and details. Autistic persons on the other hand are more likely to initially perceive basic structures and details and then integrate this information into holistic concepts. Within occupational contexts, this alternative perspective on one and the same concept bears a significant potential for additional insights.

Pattern recognition
Many people with autism are able to recognize patterns in large structures or data sets quickly and effortlessly. Due to their ‘bottom-up’ perceptual style, deviations and errors flag up immediately. This unique skill is highly valuable in the analysis and evaluation of mass data but also within compliance and quality assurance frameworks.

Special interests
Having one or more special interests is common for people with autism. Special interests are highly intensive hobbies in which the individual gathers comprehensive expertise and technical knowledge. Typical special interests of people on the autism spectrum are logically or systematically structured domains including mathematics, physics, languages, music, engineering, IT or statistics; although some also thrive in creative areas or the humanities.

A genuine awareness for quality
Many people with autism don’t need to search for errors – errors or deviations simply pop up like a red flag. Some people on the autism spectrum go as far as saying that mistakes cause them physical discomfort.

All these special cognitive skills as well as the high concentration – even in repetitive tasks – are extremely valuable in the areas of Quality Assurance & Testing, Analytics, Software Development & Migration as well as Compliance & Reporting.

Autism-specific challenges:

  • High sensitivity to irritation
  • Communication: Low understanding of non-verbal signals
  • Hardly any eye contact/body contact
  • Stress during small talk
  • Need clear communication

We view neurodiversity as a market advantage. Our approach to providing information technology services is enhanced through diverse thinking. It’s this approach that helps us evaluate and solve technical issues for clients. For example, we may apply a stronger focus to complex data and systems, excel in roles involving repetitious tasks where attention to detail is vital, and demonstrate an ability to communicate in a voice not inhibited by bias.

What’s in it for our clients?

Excellent work results:

  • First class quality work
  • High working speed
  • Incorruptible Evaluation
  • Bulletproof documentation
  • Creative solutions for “unsolvable” tasks

Additional benefits:

  • Improved teamwork
  • Clear communication
  • Openness, diversity and honesty
  • Genuine inclusion