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Company Trains the Autistic To Test Software

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the you-got-99-problems-but-a-glitch-aint-one dept.

Businesses 419

Aspiritech, a Chicago based non-profit company, has launched a program to train high-functioning autistic people as testers for software development companies. The company says autistics have a talent for spotting imperfections, and thrive on predictable, monotonous work. Aspiritech is not the first company to explore the idea of treating this handicap as a resource. Specialisterne, a Danish company founded in 2004, also trains autistics. They hire their workforce out as hourly consultants to do data entry, assembly line jobs and work that many would find tedious and repetitive.

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If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (5, Funny)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383514)

They own the future.

Re:If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (0)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383634)

I would think the future, at least the future of computer programming, relies much more on communication skills than rigorous attention to detail. As languages become higher level and more extensible, it is much more important to write code and doc that others can read and understand.

Re:If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383686)

>at least the future of computer programming, relies much more on communication skills than rigorous attention to detail
You don't actually know how to program, do you? (Other than maybe toy programs of a few kLoC)

Re:If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (1)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383852)

I have a degree in EE, and write code daily. You are right about me not writing large programs though. Generally I write small, simple programs, and then reuse components to make larger more complex apps. The people I work with do the same, and it's great to have a well documented, simple libraries to pick and choose from. The skills I see that provide this type of codebase are good organization and communication skills.

As time goes on, and proper development libraries become larger, hopefully there will be less and less unsupportable monolithic slabs of code.

Re:If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384132)

Just because you only understand verbose programming (read: JAVA) doesn't mean there aren't millions of qualified programmers who understand concise code (read: C/C++). Also, read "less/more efficient to code" for "java/C"!

Re:If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383728)

They are testers... not programmers.

Re:If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (2, Insightful)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383910)

Yeah,

It beats being paid to pick the odd-shaped aspirins off the end of a conveyor-belt in manufacturing...

Re:If they thrive on predicatable, monotonous work (3, Interesting)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383948)

I would think the future, at least the future of computer programming, relies much more on communication skills than rigorous attention to detail. As languages become higher level and more extensible, it is much more important to write code and doc that others can read and understand.

Yes... and no.

The code and doc that others can read and understand, yes, that is tremendously important, and will always be neglected in Dilbert's (and our) world of rushed deadlines, short staffing, and lazy coworkers. If it works, ship it yesterday, oh, and after it's shipped, why isn't the next thing finished yet?

Accurate code and doc requires tremendous attention to detail, if you're talking about API level, you need docs that say what the functions and their parameters do, and functions that properly implement that. Rigorous attention to detail is just the beginning - extensive testing, documentation of big picture connections to related parts of the API, and keeping up with the "cutting edge" of efficiency, feature completeness, etc.

Most of my coworkers don't have the attention span to complete anything significant at this level of rigor, and the ones who do are pushed by management to "be more productive" rather than make something that actually works 100% correctly.

I see it coming... (5, Insightful)

JazzyMusicMan (1012801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383530)

I know many will say this is reprehensible, but I honestly think this is something respectable for individuals suffering from autism to do. Honestly, besides grocery store jobs, I have never seen other types of companies hiring these individuals. Of course there are others, but I haven't seen any.

Re:I see it coming... (5, Insightful)

HBoar (1642149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383608)

I completely agree, and don't see why it would be reprehensible. It's simply matching people to work that suits them. Just like how, due to my personality and skill set, engineering is a more suitable job for me than say pole dancing or drain laying, their personality/skill sets make them more suited to certain jobs over others.

Re:I see it coming... (4, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383768)

engineering is a more suitable job for me than say pole dancing

Agghhh!!! Image of engineer pole dancing... Thanks mate, you've just ruined my lunch.

Re:I see it coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383828)

I can just see tron guy doing that now...

Re:I see it coming... (1)

danwat1234 (942579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383986)

I can see Sandra Bullock pole dancing now .. and chanting "WhoIs WhoIs WHOis!"

Re:I see it coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384298)

You eat pole dancers?

Re:I see it coming... (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383994)

One of the worst things you can do to people is pidgeon hole them into a job based on a prevelent sterotype. For example, Temple Grandin [wikipedia.org] has made a fourtune "thinking like a cow". I find it impossible to describe her work as predictable or monotonous.

Re:I see it coming... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384232)

engineering is a more suitable job for me than say pole dancing

Pole dance inspector?

Re:I see it coming... (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383682)

Not nearly as reprehensible as I find every idiot geek out there (many of them, sadly to say, on Slashdot) that seem to have some perverse need to revel in calling themselves autistic -- or at the very least "oh, I like star trek and collecting shit, so I have fucking aspergers". Ever since that "report" came out a few years ago, every single fucktard on the planet has started going around clinging to that like some crazy fucking Munchhausen crazed mother.

In this story, these aren't people who have to wear helmets and rattle off the CIA Factbook incessantly. These are people with "high functioning" autism which, again, About half of the Slashdot audience has claimed to have over the years.

Re:I see it coming... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384116)

Why is this modded as troll? It's actually quite truthful. I was diagnosed with aspergers as a teen. This was after my parents kicked me off home when I was 11 years old and per government requirements, I had to go to a different school (which was mostly so that the people there could diagnose me). Later I was moved to normal school, with "aspergers syndrome" stamped on me as a result.

Later I read about it and most of the things just doesn't fit. I mean sure, I was quite shy and non-outgoing as kid as I liked computers and programming. But is that any news for a programmer or a geek? Not that it has caused any problems in my life either - I've had lovely girlfriends, spend nice time out with people and do not see any problems at all.

Surely some people are really autistic, but there's many who think so or are wrongly diagnosed so because they share some common things between aspergers and geeks. And well, I got plus sides from it too - I never didn't need to go to army and spent that time better.

There's lots of truth in what the parent says.

Posting as anon for obvious reasons.

Re:I see it coming... (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384020)

Let's face it.

A company is in business to make money. They'll in no way spend money unless it'll make more money than the alternatives. There is an ulterior motive here, and it's the hope that the people with autism will be so absorbed with their jobs they won't realize they're getting minimum wage or may not care because now they have a job they can do well. They'll do a damn fine job at it, most likely, and they'll run off all the riff-raff (shitty testers who are just there to pirate the software and/or play games all day).

However, they'll also lower the bar. Suddenly all QA is minimum wage only, and the overall quality of software developed drops sharply. Remember back in the day when QA testers were usually part of the parent company? Now most are outsourced to smaller recruiting agencies that won't even tell people if there will be any work for them tomorrow or not, because they don't know if the parent company will just up and leave. The testers don't know shit about coding, only that throwing a grenade here will cause it to bounce back in their faces, but the software has already gone gold anyway, so it's too late to fix.

Re:I see it coming... (1)

FilthCatcher (531259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384220)

Let's face it. A company is in business to make money.

Except for maybe a "Chicago based non-profit company"

Sometimes they startup their own (1)

serps (517783) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384174)

Honestly, besides grocery store jobs, I have never seen other types of companies hiring these individuals.

ASD isn't a barrier to founding three startup companies [penelopetrunk.com] or Dealing with other people in a business environment [penelopetrunk.com] .

Although it can be hard to register your car [penelopetrunk.com] ...

Re:I see it coming... (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384198)

I have a friend who's borderline autistic that also happens to be highly intelligent, and is an accomplished programmer and technical writer.

Re:I see it coming... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384264)

high-functioning autistic people

Those are not quite the same as autistic people and depending on individual you may not know that they are autistic at all unless you get to know them personally.

A Brave New World (2, Interesting)

bashibazouk (582054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383542)

Bring on the Epsilons...

Re:A Brave New World (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383602)

Well, hang on. Epsilons were bred to be epsilons, which was meant to be, and is, morally reprehensible.

People with autism exist already. Why shouldn't they have better jobs than sacking groceries? And why shouldn't those jobs be in line with their special abilities? The Politically Correct teach us to be "differently abled". If that's really true, then how could jobs in line with those special abilities be bad?

Re:A Brave New World (4)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383644)

> The Politically Correct teach us to be "differently abled"

Eesh, that should say The Politically Correct teach us to say "differently abled"

Re:A Brave New World (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384308)

Epsilons were bred to be epsilons, which was meant to be, and is, morally reprehensible.

Phew! For a moment there, I thought it was a Paul Erdos reference. He refered to kids as epsilons.

Dupe (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383546)

This notion was both used in Brave New World and Dean Koontz's Frankenstein - using autistic people to perform as worker bees.

That said, there's been a troubling increase of babies born on the spectrum in recent years, and so finding a productive niche for them is something I'm all for.

(And of course, they'd probably make great software programmers.)

Re:Dupe (4, Insightful)

kabloom (755503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383600)

There have been corresponding declines [aappublications.org] in the diagnosis of mental retardation.

Re:Dupe (2, Insightful)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383678)

Of course, calling someone retarded is far more impolite now than calling them autistic. Makes it a lot harder to say what the real trends are.

Re:Dupe (3, Insightful)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383762)

Or maybe a better way to say that is a lot more autistic people used to unfairly be considered unintelligent.

Re:Dupe (3, Insightful)

matzahboy (1656011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383940)

That is because mental retardation was an umbrella diagnosis that didn't convey any useful information. Most people with any kind of mental disability were given that diagnosis. As we learned more about these kinds of disabilities, we began specifying different kinds of mental problems. It's like the difference between calling a person educated and calling them a physicist.

Re:Dupe (5, Funny)

Jazz-Masta (240659) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384282)

There have been corresponding declines [aappublications.org] in the diagnosis of mental retardation.

If anything there has been a huge increase. They just call it different things - autism, down syndrome, middle management, liberal arts...

Re:Dupe (1)

shadowofwind (1209890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383650)

I think classification is a big reason for the apparent increase in autism and Asperger's syndrome. Years ago a person could just be a little weird, now its always a medical condition. And even severely autistic people might not be classified as autistic, even if they were locked away and drugged because of it.

That said, I'm not questioning that it really is increasing also. Our environment has been changing rapidly. And childhood has changed a lot.

Re:Dupe (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383690)

(And of course, they'd probably make great software programmers.)

Poor non-verbal skills....check
Poor eye contact....check
Lack of empathy....check
Problems starting conversations....check
Wants routines....check

Sure sounds like every engineer I know. Mild autism, asbergers, ADD *or whatever the latest diagnosis is); unless is is severe half the symptoms apply to large groups of people.

Re:Dupe (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383704)

Interestingly on a similar trajectory as selfish idiots who insist on squirting out some kids on the verge of menopause (when other things, like downs syndrome goes from a 1:1200 risk to a 1:30 or worse risk).

Anyway, it's great for people to be self-sufficient as long as they are capable of fending for themselves and not at risk of being exploited in ways the "normal" worker is not.

Re:Dupe (5, Insightful)

tautog (46259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384090)

Troll? Really? The world for mod points. Are there a lot of late life conception slashdotters out there?

Not only are late life conception children statistically more likely to have mental "issues" of some nature, I suspect there's a correlation between late life conception and other issues such as bi-polarism and schizophrenia. Evolution favors early and successful reproduction and hasn't had time to deal with reproduction capabilities of long-lifespan organisms.

Mod me down if you want, but controversial does not equal -1 Troll.

Re:Dupe (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383988)

That said, there's been a troubling increase of babies born on the spectrum in recent years

All I see is a troubling increase in the number of diagnoses, combined with a troubling increase in the belief that these symptoms require medical/psychiatric attention to normalize any differences. I don't know about you, but I loathe the idea of a society of homogeneous personalities as much as I loathe the idea of an ice cream shop with homogenized flavors. Variety is the spice of life.

Only one small problem to solve (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383562)

We just have to figure a way to build an economy around the counting of toothpicks.

Re:Only one small problem to solve (0, Offtopic)

svtdragon (917476) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384182)

C'mon now. Troll? Really? I found it to be an entirely appropriate joke. You made me laugh, AC, and I'm a very good driver.

Can you say... (1)

redvision4 (105878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383566)

Betas. Or maybe deltas.

I'm sure some people will be upset by that comment but they are sorting job function by capability.

High Functioning Autism (4, Informative)

kabloom (755503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383570)

High Functioning Autism isn't really a condition that impairs people from doing more complex work. It's really similar to Aspergers Syndrome, and people with these two conditions are the kinds of people who would can get good educations and be great programmers.

(I hear Silicon Valley has a higher prevalence of Aspies, likely because the kinds of jobs found there are a good fit for Aspies and tend to attract them to the region.)

Re:High Functioning Autism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383668)

You are right... A friend of a friend who lives in the valley says that she will never be out of work as she works with kids on autism spectrum.

Here is the deal -- autism does not just happen out of the blue. In many cases it is quite true that special parents make, well, special children and Silicon Valley has a disproportional number of people who need services. In fact many local companies will pay for therapy and special services which are necessary to integrate autistic individuals into mainstream society.

Also, high functioning autistic individuals are not disabled by any means. Quite a few of them turn out to be great engineers and many members of MENSA happen to be on the spectrum.

Re:High Functioning Autism (5, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383724)

Ever since that report came out a few years ago, it has been "trendy" to walk around proclaiming "I'm a geek and have some weird OCD traits, so I totally have aspergers!" I'm sure it is sometimes legitimate and meaningful, but for the most part I suspect it is the geek version of a guy going around telling people how edgy and brooding and complex he is. And when geeks aren't going around self-diagnosing themselves as that, I'm sure doctors are all too often eager to do it for them for the same odd reasons they go around telling everyone (or used to, at least) that they have ADD and ADHD simply because they can't sit in a chair and not twitch a muscle for fifteen hours straight.

Re:High Functioning Autism (3, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383968)

Ever since that report came out a few years ago, it has been "trendy" to walk around proclaiming "I'm a geek and have some weird OCD traits, so I totally have aspergers!"

Combining 2 popular "geek" traits: being anti-social and hypochondria.

Re:High Functioning Autism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383776)

it starts earlier than that. The prevalence of aspergers at MIT and CalTech is an order of magnitude above the population level and those two institutions contribute significantly to the silicon valley workforce.

Re:High Functioning Autism (2, Informative)

matzahboy (1656011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383946)

Yes, high functioning autism people CAN be successful in the business world, but it is more of a exception rather than a rule. Not being able to communicate well or understand abstract ideas is a real problem in the business world. It does impair them from doing complex work. Everything for an autism person MUST be concrete. I can see why this would lead to success in programming, but they would fail at many other professions.

Re:High Functioning Autism (2, Interesting)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384072)

High Functioning Autism isn't really a condition that impairs people from doing more complex work.

Indeed. I have done quite a bit of thinking/independent study on this issue, and I think the best way to describe the difference between an "Autistic" brain and a "Neurotypical" brain is by comparing a GPU to a CPU.

A neurotypical or 'normal' brain is incredibly parallel, much like yon super-powered GPU's. This parallelism is what allows the average person to walk, chew gum, carry on a conversation, breathe, and at the same time remember that they left the front door unlocked. Scans of autistic brains, however, show markedly decreased inter-connectivity (and increased inner-connectivity) between the many regions of the brain [Citation 1 [nih.gov] and 2 [nih.gov] ]. Therefore, it seems that a brain affected by an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may, in some aspects, resemble the far more serially designed CPU.

[Note: I understand that ASD can manifest itself very severely, extremely limiting the sufferer's interaction with the outside world. I also know that there are other theorized neurological mechanisms at work in ASD. For this though experiment, I want to look at an example HFA versus a comparable IQ neurotypical, to cut down on experimental "noise".]

The popular high-functioning autism (HFA) labels "linear thinking" and "highly logical" can easily be traced back to a more serial brain, but there are plenty of other examples in the autism spectrum syndromes. ASD sufferers are also very vulnerable to sensory over-stimulation--especially from multiple senses simultaneously, as the data simply cannot be processed at the rate that it is arriving. At the same time, someone with ASD may be able to capture many more minor details of a single input (be it visual art, a complex symphony, etc.) than the average person. The focus on depth rather than breadth in a subject of study is a major characteristic of HFA.

I have a fairly mild case of Asperger Syndrome (yes, professionally diagnosed... just listen to my point, okay?), so I have a few specific examples... For example, take my earlier walking and talking experiment: If I am carrying on a conversation while walking, I stop moving whenever I need to think about and formulate my next response. I was (unfortunately) well known in high school and college for my all-around clumsiness, and yet I have the fine motor control and "muscle memory" to beat the most tediously annoying NES games or to manipulate and solder miniature surface mount components. Similarly, I am a semi-professional trumpet player, but I cannot grasp the idea of using two hands at once on the piano to play two different rhythms, despite years of trying. I consider myself a fairly skilled driver, and even enjoy singing to the steering wheel... but as soon as I find myself in heavy traffic, I cannot carry a note nor remember the lyrics to anything on the radio. It gets turned off immediately. This also explains why I fail so miserably at the "cocktail party effect" [wikipedia.org] , as, from my perspective, I hear everyone in the room at once and there is no hope of picking out a single conversation.

and people with these two conditions are the kinds of people who would can get good educations and be great programmers.

Maybe it even goes back farther... Just a thought: what if our ancestral tribes benefited from having one or two members of the village who were driven to become advance scouts, staying away from the hubbub of a communal life but still sending back vital information and benefiting to the tribe as a whole? Just a thought...

"predictable, monotonous work" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383578)

The writer must be a programmer because as a tester, I find the phrase "predictable, monotonous work" offending. Sure, parts of testing can be predictable and monotonous, but a good tester goes outside the box and the majority of testing is not the predictable monotonous type. If testing was predictable, then it wouldn't be needed. If it was predictable that certain bugs would be found then a good Engineer would always fix it before it was found, making it not predictable anymore.

Re:"predictable, monotonous work" (4, Informative)

Nursie (632944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383898)

Depends on the work.

Testing credit-card software a few years ago the test design was all done for us in the form of standard test packs that were aimed at requirement validation. The poor tester we got to do the work had about 4 days straight of:

Put card in machine. Press this button. Take card out of machine. Put it back in. Press this button to program card for next test. Take card out of machine. Goto beginning.

Data Sourcing (5, Interesting)

IntentionalStance (1197099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383584)

Yes ago we were doing a data warehousing project. This involved getting other departments to build extract feeds from their system so that we could pull all the data together. Some one had to chase down progress from all these third parties. It was no fun at at all. Spending hours hassling people who were tee'd off with you 'wasting' their time.

Dave had mild Aspergers. We got him to do the hassling as he couldn't sense the irritation of the people he was calling.

Re:Data Sourcing (0, Flamebait)

ztransform (929641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383720)

We got him to do the hassling as he couldn't sense the irritation of the people he was calling.

Why? Because he had "mild Aspergers"? That's so stereotypical! Imagine if you began to think certain racial stereotypes were dominant in certain industries because of certain stereotypical behavioural types?

Re:Data Sourcing (4, Insightful)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383856)

Um, what? I hope you're trying and failing to be funny....

Is it stereotypical to think that someone who has the flu will likely be tired? Is it stereotypical to think that someone with lung cancer will cough? It's a disorder. It has certain symptoms. Saying that _A SPECIFIC PERSON_ with that disorder has certain symptoms of that disorder is not in any way similar to racial stereotypes. What you are saying is that asking someone who is coughing heavily and blowing their nose frequently if they are sick is no different than assuming that all Mexicans can't drive. There's a huge difference. You might as well bitch about people saying that someone with a Y chromosome is a boy. I mean that's not _always_ true either, so that must be a horrible insensitive stereotype too, huh?

Re:Data Sourcing (2, Insightful)

ztransform (929641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383904)

Mexicans can't drive

Hey, you made that assumption, not me. You wouldn't pick an actual racial stereotype because you're afraid of being politically correct. I'm just pointing out that people with a particular gene is just as likely to behave differently from anybody else that shares a particular genetic difference.

I'm just having a go at all those "we're all the same" tyrants who ought to be attacking anyone who considers Down Syndrome or any other genetic difference as something politically incorrect to notice or talk about in an adult manner!

Re:Data Sourcing (2, Informative)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383980)

He was using the 'Mexicans can't drive' statement as an example; not saying that you specifically hold that stereotype. And, the reason one might not use racial stereotypes as opposed to the symptoms of a genetic disorder is that the former has not undergone rigorous testing through randomized control trials. Rather historically, they've just been used to bring people down. If I say black people are more prone to sickle cell, then that statement could be validated through a literature search on the topic. You, however, are acting too much like a self-righteous ass to tell the difference.

Re:Data Sourcing (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384202)

It's a feature, not a bug.

Re:Data Sourcing (1)

Hybrid-brain (1478551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383748)

Like our great and glorious leader of Microsoft: Bill Gates

consultants? nice way to get out of paying health (5, Insightful)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383588)

consultants? nice way to get out of paying for there health care and makeing them pay all the taxes on there own. How about helping and makeing them w2 workers?

Re:consultants? nice way to get out of paying heal (0, Offtopic)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383732)

consultants? nice way to get out of paying for there health care and makeing them pay all the taxes on there own. How about helping and makeing them w2 workers?

You are kidding, right?

Where do you think the money comes from to pay for benefits and employment taxes in the first place?

I'd rather have the cash and spend it the way I want than be stuck in some lowest-common-denominator benefits system.

Re:consultants? nice way to get out of paying heal (2, Insightful)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383892)

except you just can't get the purchasing power to deliver the benefits you will need for the income you will get.

predictable, monotonous? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383596)

sounds like most jobs these days

Co-workers with patience (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383606)

That will be a first for me.

Perfect! (1)

KingTank (631646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383610)

I'm sure they are also willing work for very low pay and have terrible negotiating skills!

Re:Perfect! (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383670)

and sadly some of them may end up working a over time and not get paid for the over time.

Re:Perfect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383790)

I'm sure they are also willing work for very low pay and have terrible negotiating skills!

and sadly some of them may end up working a over time and not get paid for the over time.

Then they should unionize. And my guess is, they probably will.

Re:Perfect! (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383738)

Yes, but that's simply part of being American; nothing to do with Autism.

Well they say it never rains but it pours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383614)

There goes the blackjack and the hookers for Rainman then.

Hmm (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383624)

"The company says autistics have a talent for spotting imperfections, and thrive on predictable, monotonous work."

Sounds like manager material to me.

Re:Hmm (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383680)

bad thing is....we wouldn't be able to call them (as managers) retards without feeling guilty of doing something un-pc

Re:Hmm (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383740)

That's true.

This just occurred to me -- perhaps they've been secretly using the autistic as first line managers for years. That we've been accurate (although non-PC) all this time and didn't realize it?

Re:Hmm (1)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383978)

wouldn't be able to call them (as managers) retards without feeling guilty of doing something un-pc

It's not so much a matter of political correctness as scientific accuracy. Many autistic people are better at processing and interpreting information at a vastly superior speed and accuracy than the average (hence, this article). Define 'retarded'. If we're trying to evolve into, say, Vulcans, they may well be ahead of the curve.

Although I agree political correctness can often be over-the-top, I do think it should be unacceptable to vilify someone who has their abilities differently distributed due to random factors entirely beyond their control, and is, by some definitions, more intelligent.

Re:Hmm (1)

matzahboy (1656011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383958)

"The company says autistics have a talent for spotting imperfections, and thrive on predictable, monotonous work."

Sounds like manager material to me.

No... because people with autism are terrible at dealing with people. Their social skills are horrible. I'll give you an example. Many autistic children have to be taught how to recognize and make facial expressions. They do not figure it out on their own.

Re:Hmm (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384106)

No... because people with autism are terrible at dealing with people

i take it you haven't dealt with managers very often

Re:Hmm (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384168)

Sounds like the manager at my last job.

Suggested reading: The Speed of Dark (4, Interesting)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383746)

On the topic of Autism, I suggest everybody read "The Speed of Dark" by Elizabeth Moon. It puts the condition into a very approachable context that allows the reader to live through the eyes of an Autistic. It also has a great science/research back story that us geeks like.

Re:Suggested reading: The Speed of Dark (1)

deprecated (86120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384048)

us^H^Hwe geeks like.

huxley (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383760)

If only we could figure out how to produce these assembly workers en masse from test tubes... We could call them epsilons and use them to free up the alphas for the more fun tasks! If we train the epsilons from an early age to be happy with their role in life it would be a wonderful system for all!

Re:huxley (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383874)

It's called China.

As someone who does... (1)

ZeroSerenity (923363) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383832)

...fall into this category, the way this article is writen is saying that every person with ASD is like this. However, I am not. I hate repeditive work, menial tasks and debugging. I'm a software dev anyway, but I make deal. It's just me who loves to make stuff that does what I want more easily since I am partialy lazy. I guess I'm not like everyone there.

Re:As someone who does... (1)

ELitwin (1631305) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383934)

Your poor spelling corroborates the fact that you would make a lousy tester.

One man's monotonous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383836)

Is another man's my wife.

Ahah! (1)

g3k0 (1697032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383878)

That's why they hired me!

Microsoft (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30383938)

This is no surprise Microsoft has been using the retarded as a QA team for windows security for YEARS

Aspiritech? Specialisterne? (3, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383942)

These names seem to be disparaging. Would you work for a contract agency named Shortbusstaffers or a software company named Weonlyhirethementallydifferent?

Re:Aspiritech? Specialisterne? (1, Informative)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384034)

These names seem to be disparaging. Would you work for a contract agency named Shortbusstaffers or a software company named Weonlyhirethementallydifferent?

Spicialisterne just means Specialists, nothing derogatory there. Aspiritech doesn't sound to bad either, like a combination of Aspire and tech.

Specialisterren in Holland (2, Informative)

nywles (1132947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30383970)

In Holland Specialisterren [specialisterren.nl] (hmm, sounds familiar) does the same.

Brilliant! (1)

sneakyimp (1161443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384012)

Whoever came up with this idea is a complete fucking genius. I feel really sorry for the engineers though. It will never work well enough to fully satisfy the testing team.

How far does this go? (1, Flamebait)

negatonium (1103503) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384030)

And the deaf might be good at watching surveillance camera video... And those height-challenged might be good in tight spaces.... And those uterus-enabled might be.... well you get the picture. I guess we all "sell" what we are good at but those doing the buying should be careful of enabling exploitation.

Worked with one would love to have one as sidekick (5, Informative)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384044)

He was someone working halftime to "integrate into society", three years ago.

The project was a huge database migration, so we would give the kid excell sheets with thousands of records to compare data consistency, validating scripts and data transformations, while management smiled "that'll keep the kid busy for a few months".

Now, he loved wikipedia, and we'd only see him read franically on wikipedia... at the end of the day, he'd walk up to the IT-manager, each time again:
"I'm sorry sir, I did my best today but I could only manage to go through 70% of the list. I found some errors which I marked. Next time, I'll try harder, I don't want to dissapoint you.", while the same look of disbelief was on his face over and over again.
All the consultants that passed through the project with their programming knowledge, could not match the comparing accuracy of this kid with his massive speed, while he just seemed to be reading wikipedia, apoligizing each evening when he went on his way home in all his quirkyness being very thankful to get the "opportunity to work with pcs".

It's maybe relevant to mention the project was an agressively low priced fixed project, going over schedule so the client being hired for the project kept on dumping starters and benchers to finish the project with the problems you could imagine. It's why I was hired the period of the project to support the other consultants who were stuck in the mess they've been creating trying to get the project done.

If I would have the opportunity again to work with and rely on autistics for tasks needing massive concentration and accuracy, I'll put all my trust in their hands.

Since 2004? That's nothing. (2, Funny)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384052)

Slashdot has been hiring mentally handicapped people as moderators since 1997. Now that's truly groundbreaking!

Mods? I thought it was the editors! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384178)

A mongoloid moron for every submission, I say! Starting with that simian Cmd. Taco. Who the hell names himself after the vulva?

Interesting ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384086)

... that's just the kind of thing they used to say about women. 'Till we got uppity.

Re:Interesting ... (1)

JismTroll (588456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384266)

Autistics to test software? Oh look, now timothy and michael can have side jobs!

in other news (2, Funny)

mestar (121800) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384110)

Company Trains the Autistic To Test Software

But if somebody has written some software to train autistic people, it would be:

"Company Tests Software to Train the Autistic"

What if a weird consultant is to do some work for some developer tools company:

"The Autistic to Train a Test Software Company"

What if some ill behaved company is about to release its Railroad tycoon clone:

"The Autistic Company to Test Software Trains"

M O O N (1)

scourfish (573542) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384124)

That spells segmentation fault

Paranoid (1)

bourdux (1609219) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384144)

Then what about hire paranoids as locksmiths?

People... Austism does not equal Retarded! (5, Insightful)

Cythrawl (941686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384188)

Jesus, I would expect something better from Slashdot

A lot of you are suggesting that high function Autism is mental retardation. It ISN'T!.

I am very disgusted with the fact that people on here are totally blinkered and think its retardation. My 5 yr old son, just last week was tested for three hours and its been found that he has slight Autism. He is NOT retarded in any way shape or form. He is an exceptionally intelligent little boy. He just has trouble focusing on simple to learn tasks that are not within his interest. Case and point, at age 2 he could tell you what every single car was in the parking lot by looking at the manufacture's logo. Every one. even the odd ones that you don't see a lot of like Ferrari and Lamborghini (well you don't see many here in the white mountains of New Hampshire).
At age 3 his focus went from that to NASCAR, and he could tell you every driver, sponsor, number, what car they drove. Now he is into trains, he can watch an episode of Thomas the Tank engine and recite the whole episode word for word in order after watching it ONCE. He could read at age 3, he could write his name at age 4. He can count to 30+ and knew all his ABC's at 2 and a 1/2.

However he has problems if you break his routine, when he talks to you he will turn every conversation around to focus on what he is interested in. He has social skill problems when he deals with his peers who are of the same age. Adults not really a problem, and thats due to most adults being of a higher level than most kids his age. I personally think he has aspergers as he is very social and will will approach people and talk to them. We have has some simple tasks like one half of potty training that he still hasn't mastered at age 5, and we now know how to handle that, because all the ways we were trying were disrupting his routine.

The pediatrician came up with a very good example of how his life will be with it. If for example he decided to work at a museum as the resident Ornithologist because that is what he was interested in, he would excel at that job. He would have a perfect memory for that task and would know EVERYTHING about it. He would be a walking encyclopedia on the subject. Everything else would be secondary.

If he took up programming he would excel at it if he was interested in it. Seriously HOW IS THAT RETARDATION? Low functioning Autism is totally different end of the spectrum. Its just that all Autistic people have their brains wired differently, they are NOT retarded.

I suggest you read this before posting any more retarded posts ok?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_speculated_to_have_been_autistic [wikipedia.org]

Remember the article says High-functioning autism, please don't jump on the short bus as many of you have on here.

I'd love this job! (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384204)

I have Asperger's Syndrome, which as someone said earlier is very similar to high functioning Autism. Personally, I think this is a wonderful use of my talents! I'm always so interested in little details and usability so much that I often get annoyed when people just don't seem to care about them. If I wasn't such a Linux geek, I'd take this job up (if it payed well) in a heartbeat!

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