Software company hires autistic adults for specialized skills

CBS News

For much of his adult life, 28-year-old Patrick Viesti has worked to keep the signs of Asperger’s syndrome at bay, but even after a successful college career, finding a job was not easy.

“To truly be honest, I would have to say it was quite difficult,” Viesti said.

Viesti said he had come off stiff or monotone during the interview process, reports CBS News correspondent Michelle Miller. However, his luck changed thanks to the software company he now works for. SAP recruited him and a number of other new hires this year because of their autism.

“Someone is willing to give them a chance, to say to them, ‘I want you for your skills, I want you for the experience that you bring to the table,'” Viesti said.

A new study recently found that each case of autism costs $2.4 million over a lifetime, including the expense of special education and lost productivity for their parents. Meanwhile, 85 percent of autistic adults are jobless or underemployed.

SAP’s program is the brainchild of Thorkil Sonne whose 17-year-old son Lars is autistic. He realized that while those with autism might lack the social skills recruiters are looking for, they possess many attributes high on their radar as well: intelligence and memory, the ability to see patterns and attention to detail on repetitive tasks.  Continue reading

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