Autistic people are good at IT? Really?
30th September 2020
There is a well-known stereotype that autistic people are good at IT – to the point where many autistic people are steered towards jobs in IT.
It is certainly the case that there are many people with autistic traits who work in IT and, from talking to managers at IT companies, it appears that there might be a fair number of undiagnosed autistic people who work in IT – especially among the older members of the workforce (those who are over 40).
Why has this stereotype arisen? It could be, as I’ve covered in previous blogs, because many autistic people do have traits that make them suited to IT.
For instance, many autistic people find computers easier to engage with than people. They may even find computers to be more inviting to them than other people are, due to the social struggles associated with autism.
Computers don’t expect you to do social chit chat, and, unless they are broken, they usually do exactly what you tell them to (not to be mistaken with what you thought you told them)!
Indeed, computers don’t judge. They treat everyone equally regardless of how you interact with them.
Computers are generally predictable. They don’t talk back at you, nor shout at you if you do something wrong! They are actually quite friendly machines that appreciate logic more than charisma.
Jobs involving computers are often more flexible and can be done remotely – making it easier for the autistic person to manage their environment so it is more comfortable to work productively. We strongly suspect that the IT sector already has a fair proportion of autistic people working in it happily – which naturally makes it a more inclusive place.
For example, expectations such as wearing suits for work, or doing hours of business networking might be unanimously ignored by your manager and colleagues alike!
And that’s before you think about the skills required for IT that are often found in the autistic population. For instance, many autistic people are good at recognising patterns, and people with autism usually have good attention to detail.
In fact, a common trait among autistic people that appears rare in the general population, is the ability to handle detail and the bigger picture both at the same time. This is a very useful trait for many jobs in IT.
Autistic people are often good at logical thinking – and this is extremely useful for jobs in IT. Again, this skill appears to be more prevalent in autism than in the general population.
But it is a myth that all autistic people are good at IT. Some autistic people hate IT and are just as baffled by it as the general population!
A few may think they are very good at something like IT and will tell you so, when they are not.
But this is not because they are trying lie to you about their skills or over-egg them. This can be for other reasons. For example, because they are so socially isolated that they are not able to compare their skills with those of others.
Sometimes, in order to figure out whether an autistic person is actually good at something, the best thing is just to ask them to show you what they can do.
I think it is hard to find people of my age who are as clueless about technology as I am (I am a Millennial). My Father once told me that if you tilted a CD (disk) in just the right way, to catch the light, that you would hear the music playing. Yes, I believed him. No, I wasn’t that young at the time. But I have met autistic people who are pretty disabled when it comes to IT too!
One way to witness the variety in autism and break past the stereotypes, is to interact with lots of different autistic people. The interests, aptitudes and skills of the autistic population are just as wide ranging as in the general population.
Last week we looked at sales. There are autistic Stand-up Comedians, Artists, Authors of books of fiction, Tour Guides. In fact, there is no reason why an autistic person should not be able to excel in any area. The problem can be in helping them to find the right niche where they can be successful. Aspiedent can help autistic people figure that out.
If you would like to consult the experts and know more about autism (either your own or somebody else’s), please contact Jen from Aspiedent at firstname.lastname@example.org.