While the high U.S. unemployment rate is an ongoing challenge for many people, Illinois-based Aspiritech, a nonprofit, seeks a particular group of adults to test a new software -- those with Autism.
Aspiritech, a blend of the words, aspergers spirit and technology, is hiring a collection of adults with unique characteristics, personalities and traits. The company serves as an unusual U.S. start-up, specializing in discovering software bugs with talents often found in young adults with autism.
“They exceeded my expectations,” said Dan Tedesco of Shelton, Conn.-based HandHold Adaptive, which took a chance on Aspiritech to test an iPhone application.
Traits that help software testers are intense focus, comfort with repetition, memory for detail, which happen to be characteristics of autism, the company told reporters.
People with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, have normal to high intelligence and often are highly skilled with computers.
“There is a pride in their product you don’t usually see in this type of work,” Tedesco remarked.
Aspiritech, based in Highland Park, Ill., nurtures these skills while accepting the quirks that can often hinder adults with autism in the workplace: social awkwardness, poor eye contact, being easily overwhelmed.
Aspiritech was founded by Moshe and Brenda Weitzberg after their son Oran, now 32, who was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when he was 14, was fired from a job bagging groceries.
In 2009, a U.S. Department of Education survey found the employment rate for young adults with autism was on par with that for deaf-and-blind young adults. And well below the rate of those with blindness alone or learning disabilities or traumatic brain injuries, said Scott Standifer, an organizer of a national conference on adults with autism and employment.
Software testers, who are in their 20s and 30s, are trained to work together and they take part in organized outings.