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Employees with Autism

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 by Slaughter Development

Most employers are looking for candidates with “excellent communication skills.” One firm, however, hires only people with autism.

Check out this article about entrepreneur Thorkil Sonne:

In Sonne’s native Denmark, as elsewhere, autistics are typically considered unemployable. But Sonne worked in IT, a field more suited to people with autism and related conditions like Asperger’s syndrome. “As a general view, they have excellent memory and strong attention to detail. They are persistent and good at following structures and routines,” he says. In other words, they’re born software engineers.

We can all imagine the stereotype of antisocial geeks who prefer computers to people. But these sorts of conditions don’t necessarily lead to a life of solitude and technical wizardry. Just ask Penelope Trunk, a nationally-recognized career expert and blogger who has Asperger’s:

The reason I’m good at giving career advice is because I had to learn things systematically, which helps me break it down for everyone else.

For example, I had to learn that a candy dish on someone’s desk means “I like to talk with people.” Other people read this cue instinctively. It makes for a good blog post but an annoying co-worker if I don’t teach myself stuff quickly.

These stories remind us that work is not merely the completion of tasks, but rather, the output of personalities. Individuals who have autism and Asperger’s tend to be more methodical than social. That makes them great at detailed technical work and breaking down complex subtleties to share with others. Who we are predicts how we will excel. Seeking employees with autism might be the right choice for some businesses.

As The Methodology Blog covered back during Remote Work Week, personality type is the best leading indicator of who will work better at the office or from home. Successful business leaders like Sonne and Trunk would likely agree that knowing how your fellow employees think will help everyone to optimize productivity. If you’re interested in reviewing these social dynamics at your organization, contact Slaughter Development. We love to help companies learn more about who they are and how they can succeed.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

14 Tips to Motivate Employees - A recent article lists “14 Management Do’s and Don’ts to Motivate Employees.” Yet, unlike many opinion pieces on this topic, every one of the suggestions is fantastic advice.
Read on »
Satisfied Customers, Satisfied Employees - Lorraine Ball of Indianapolis marketing firm RoundPeg placed a brief quip on her company blog. She believes “when employees love your company your customers will too!” Read on »
Remote Work Week: Qualifications - Today’s issue of Remote Work Week discusses who in your organization is best suited for telecommuting. Read on »
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