Everyone has special gifts and talents, and companies in England and the United States are recognizing that intentionally seeking ‘neurodiversity’ in their recruiting has it’s benefits. These companies have learned that there are advantages to having people who’s brains are “wired” differently, and that people with autism, Asperger’s, dyspraxia, and dyslexia can have other strengths that are quite valuable. In Autism in the wokplace – an opportunity not a drawback, such talents as phenomenal logic, math skills, a photographic memory, and even “tunnel vision” in problem solving are identified as valuable in the workplace.

As technology continues to grow and play a larger role in virtually every business, the unique talents of many are finding a new avenue for the employees, as well as the employers. Silicon Valley is the epicenter of technology startups globally, and employs much higher than average number of skilled people in the autism spectrum. In fact, Microsoft recently held a conference on “neurodiversity in the hi-tech workforce” which included Google and Apple in attendance. In England, there are several prominent opportunities to engage, including the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), among others.

Leena Haque with the BBC is both an example of the benefits of these programs and an advocate for spreading the word about the mutual benefits. Leena has degrees from Durham University and the London School of Economics (LSE) but experienced challenges finding employment, and a level of support and understanding that would allow her to excel. As companies learn about the capabilities of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) they are also learning that they are not weird, they simply cope with social and emotional challenges differently. The BBC finance team, including Haque, developed Project Cape (Creating a Positive Environment) to provide support and highlight the advantages to employing people with ASD.

Sean Gilroy, Haque’s line manager and also a part of Project Cape, explains that as organizations understand there are multiple ways people communicate, “it will open up recruitment processes and employment and they will reap the reward of accessing an untapped market of creative and technical ability.” Haque adds that it’s “often simply about empowering an individual.” Companies like the BBC and Microsoft are leading the way to help other companies to expand their reach, demonstrate enlightened thinking, and provide opportunities that benefit the company, the employees, and ultimately the customers.

Featured image: Autism at Mozilla

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