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Autism Traits Prove Valuable for Software Testing

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the I-got-99-problems-but-a-glitch-aint-one dept.

Businesses 180

Back in 2009 we ran a story about a Chicago based non-profit company that trained high-functioning autistic people to be software testers. Two years later Aspiritech has grown to offer services in Belgium, Japan and Israel. Autistic debuggers are used by large clients like Oracle and Microsoft and have proven to be so good in fact that companies are now recruiting to meet demand. From the article: "Aspiritech's board of directors includes social service providers, therapists, a vocational expert and a software engineer. The nonprofit also received start-up advice and consultation from Keita Suzuki, who has co-founded a similar company, called Kaien, in Japan. Aspiritech has hired and trained seven recruits with Asperger's syndrome. These recruits have since worked on software-testing projects for smartphone and cloud-computing applications. Aspiritech now offers functional-, compatibility- and regression-testing, as well as test-case development, with experience in cloud-computing platforms including Salesforce."

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180 comments

Steve Jobs is Dead (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619460)

And of course, Slashdot misses the story [apple.com] .

Re:Steve Jobs is Dead (-1, Offtopic)

Nirvelli (851945) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619898)

Sorry they were 3 minutes late [slashdot.org] for you.

Steve Jobs Dead At 56
Posted by Soulskill on Wednesday October 05, @05:01PM

Steve Jobs death (-1, Offtopic)

ardmhacha (192482) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619476)

I assume there will be a Steve Jobs has died story soon.

Re:Steve Jobs death (-1, Offtopic)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619494)

Saran Palin announces she's not running for pres. Jobs died happy.

Re:Steve Jobs death (-1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620008)

Tomorrow when the editors queue the next day of stories.

Steve Jobs Dead (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619486)

Yup. Off-topic. But Steve Jobs is dead. Whatever you might have thought about him as a person, he changed the face of computing. Rest in Peace.

Re:Steve Jobs Dead (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622224)

For the worst I think.

What they really should do (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619490)

Is just recruit people who bought minecraft. It's really part of the same population set, but these one's are already used to using computers for 10 hours a day doing the same repetitive thing over and over.

Re:What they really should do (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622348)

... but these one's are already used to using computers for 10 hours a day doing the same repetitive thing over and over.

And you hit up Slashdot how many times a day?

Aspergers / Autism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619496)

The most over-self-diagnosed conditions on the planet, thanks to the perceived ability to explain social awkwardness and claim a special area of brilliance.

Sorry, it's much more likely that you're just a dork.

Re:Aspergers / Autism (2, Insightful)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620536)

Maybe it's over-self-diagnosed, but there's a proper clinical diagnosis, and it's a serious condition. The person with Asperger's does have significant strengths, though, and they tend to align with technology skills, so there's no real surprise here to those who know about Aperger's.

Re:Aspergers / Autism (2)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621942)

Condition? I (and a lot of leading Asperger's advocates) think it's more a type of brain than a condition. I was in the waiting room one day while my son was in an Asperger's class, and noticed that three of us dads were discussing the nature of human consciousness. Not your standard dad discussion. Point being, we're a breed apart from the 'regular' dads.

Re:Aspergers / Autism (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622204)

A different type of brain would certainly be a condition of sorts.

Re:Aspergers / Autism (2)

Aighearach (97333) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620892)

Aspergers typically even has a distinctive gait, so it isn't as easy to claim as some non-specific "borderline autism" claim that is more likely bogus.

And in their defense, they're still dorks either way.

Re:Aspergers / Autism (5, Funny)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621192)

The most over-self-diagnosed conditions on the planet, thanks to the perceived ability to explain social awkwardness and claim a special area of brilliance.

That, and taking Aspergers frees up stat points for you to allocate elsewhere.

And.... (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619498)

Autism Traits Prove Valuable for Software Testing

Not to mention for con artists scamming gullible parents of children with autism into believing widely used vaccines caused their kids' disorder, rather than the genes they pass on to said children.

Re:And.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619746)

Those people seem pretty dedicated to scamming themselves.

Re:And.... (1, Informative)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620174)

We don't have the faintest idea, when you get down to it, what causes autism. There's a whole damn pile of candidate genes, but none of them have been linked to a mechanism or even definitively linked to a particular mutation or other defect within the gene itself.

We know about as much about autism, really, as alchemists knew about chemistry. Just because we understand genetics and ecology on a limited level doesn't mean we've made even one firm, proven conclusion about the source of autism.

Re:And.... (5, Informative)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620532)

But we do know that autism isn't caused by vaccines.

Re:And.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620834)

Actually you cannot definitively say that it is possible that the vaccines can trigger something in certain individuals because EVERY person has a different chemistry.

While I agree that the probably do not cause autism... there is almost always an exception to the rule.

Re:And.... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37621936)

There's this impressive new field of mathematics called "statistics" - you may have heard about it already on Slashdot. Using statistics, yes, you can often make statements like "x does not cause y". By comparing people with and without x to see if they have the same or different rates of y. If the rates differ, x and y are related. If the rates are the same, then, no, x and y are not related.

Conveniently, this was done back when people started blaming autism on vaccines. The rates were the same. The severity was the same. The ages were the same.

Also conveniently, arguments like "different chemistry" are not an effective magical charm against statistics. Especially in the case of autism, where common genes have already been identified, and people with those genes still have the same autism rates whether vaccinated or unvaccinated.

Re:And.... (3, Insightful)

gregfortune (313889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622750)

The actual statement that you make is that "x is UNLIKELY to case y" along with a degree of confidence. artor3's comment is stated as an absolute so don't bother tossing stats into the discussion. Stats deals with estimation, likelyhood, probability, forecasting, etc. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence_intervals [wikipedia.org] and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistical_significance [wikipedia.org]

artor3's comment is also stated without citation. Not a good start :(

Re:And.... (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621884)

OTOH, reactions to vaccines do happen, and in some cases can be fatal. If a reaction was near-fatal, it could cause brain damage (eg heart stops beating for long enough that bits of the brain starts to die) and the resulting mental disability could share symptoms with autism. One case would be all the nutjobs need to 'prove' their link.

The way I see it, even if there was a 1-in-a-million chance of something bad happening as a result of vaccination, it is more likely that something bad will happen if you don't vaccinate, so it's not a hard decision to make.

Re:And.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37623162)

Not caused by, but potentially triggered by vaccines, in susceptible individuals.

Re:And.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37623530)

You actually don't know anything of the sort. Nobody does. Plenty of evidence suggests that vaccines are or aren't connected to autism. It depends on who funds the study. There may be other factors like genetics and toxins in the environment. All you have to do is research a little bit and you'll discover plenty of fucked up stuff about many (not all) vaccines. Disclaimer: my son (7 years) is autistic.

Re:And.... (5, Informative)

Diamonddavej (851495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620680)

Dozens of identical/fraternal twin studies, initially carried out in the 70s, prove unquestionably that autism is up to 92% genetic. While it's been hard to point to specific genetic anomalies that cause it, it does not invalidate its genetic roots. The genetics of autism is more nuanced and complex than we realised, as are other inherited conditions, it's not genes but also involves e.g. copy number variations.

Bailey, A., Le Couteur, A., Gottesman, I., Bolton, P., Simonoff, E., Yuzda, E. & Rutter, M. 1995. Autism as a strongly genetic disorder: evidence from a British twin study. Psychological Medicine 25(1), 63-77.

Glessner, J.T., et al., 2009. Autism genome-wide copy number variation reveals ubiquitin and neuronal genes. Nature 459(7246), 569-573.

Re:And.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622024)

No, unfortunately, if only it where that simple. Womb environment cannot be separated from genetic or epigenetic influence via these methods which only conciser one generation, or even for grandparent/ parent/ child traces, particularly because all three can be multi-generational. Womb environment can appear to have affects 2 generations after the trigger if you are pregnant with a girl at the time of the trigger (as eggs are formed during gestation not after birth). Epigenetic effects although non genetic are perpetuated, such as methaylation of the DNA(which is copied to the new strand after replication), they can fade but are inherited beyond womb environment.

Re:And.... (3, Interesting)

rla3rd (596810) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622034)

And the most recent twin study proves that autism is largely environmental.

"But surprisingly, mathematical modeling suggested that only 38 percent of the cases could be attributed to genetic factors, compared with the 90 percent suggested by previous studies."

This study would disagree with you.
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/05/health/research/05autism.html [nytimes.com]

Re:And.... (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623538)

So you're saying that the diagnostic criteria the ASD's are so broad that it covers disorders caused by genetic and environmental factors?

Or that the ASD symptom set is representative of disorders which can be caused by BOTH environmental and genetic factors?

Sounds like the criteria need to be re-written.

Re:And.... (3, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620696)

Science only very rarely shows that some hypothesis is correct. More often, it shows that every other tested hypothesis is wrong, and that the one that's left is just the most likely.

The "vaccines cause autism" hypothesis has been tested, and is shown to most likely be wrong. The "magic space fairy causes autism" hypothesis hasn't yet been tested, or the "too many hard sneezes while pregnant causes autism" hypothesis, nor a few hundred others. We have such a long way to go...

Fixed that for you.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622830)

Science never shows that some hypothesis is correct.

It's called falisfiability and falsification and without it our science simply isn't.
Ref.: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Falsifiability

Yes it's overly strict, and on purpose, because so many people including "scientists" and "people who believe in science" just don't get it at all. The good thing is that they're all actually smart enough to get it if they're made aware of it (the wikipedia article isn't good since it doesn't point out how one would need absolute 'total knowledge' of _everything_ in order not to be strict and say "never", but it's a start).

People who don't get it make the superficially reasonable conclusion that "almost entirely certainly correct" can be treated as "proven"; the problem arises when they in practice go from "can" to "should" which they almost always do due to our human nature and which in short order easily sabotages the very concepts that define science including the scientific method.

That flaw is the root cause of the huge issues in pharmacology and medical science that has rendered much research/attempted research worthless and this situation has spread rather widely making inroads into other sciences making research generally untrustworthy even if peer reviewed and even if incorrectly repeated (not uncommon when a mistaken assumption becomes the norm) so it's an important, serious, and dangerous issue.

Re:Fixed that for you.. (3, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623218)

Now, I don't like such absolutes as "never", because they're so... absolute. It's fully possible to, while following the scientific method perfectly, prove a hypothesis correct. It just takes a very particular kind of hypothesis, and a very particular kind of experiment.

As an example, consider the hypothesis that of Foo, Bar, and Baz, Foo is the most quiggle. This hypothesis can indeed be proven correct, but only by testing every possibility, which of course results in proving other hypotheses wrong.

As for the fields of pharmacology and medical science, your complaint of worthless research seems to be based on the assumption that only perfect knowledge is worthwhile. Quite the contrary, actually: Medical treatments can be effective even if we don't know why. The pain-relieving quality of willow bark was known 2300 years before its pharmacological mechanism was understood. Research into new treatments is very valuable, even without full understanding of the mechanisms involved. Of course such knowledge is preferred, but that's another several years of research after the initial findings.

The only "huge issue" I see with pharmacology and medical science is that they're so intently watched by the media and "science fans" for any sign of a coming miracle cure, in the constant hunt for headlines. Any finding of anything affecting any kind of cancer cells is reported as a "potential cure". In the actual research paper, the findings are almost always stated exactly as they should be: some indications, little concrete evidence, and suggestions for further avenues of research. Other sciences are picking up this attention, as well, but still usually maintain their integrity. Electrical engineering hits the news whenever some transparent, tiny, or shiny prototype finally works. Psychologists are asked for comment when there's a serial killer running amok. Sociology has its fifteen minutes of fame when there's some new theory to explain 4chan. Disease is just constantly affecting millions of people, so it's always interesting news.

Re:And.... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622542)

By the way, there is a very interesting Sci-fi book called The Speed of Dark [amazon.com] where Autism is central to the story (In terms of Sci-fi, it's a near future type of Sci-fi, so it really isn't about science-fiction if that's what you're looking for). This same idea reminds me of that book. All the analysts had a particular form of Autism.

The audio version is quite good. I actually didn't read the book, but just listened to its full audio version.

Re:And.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622570)

Could be that lack of empathy will get you a new pony too!. Living life with a child on the spectrum is an "adventure" and it really doesn't matter where is comes from. just make it go away!! What matters is doing the best you can for your child. There are a lot of folks with no resources/insurance/help who are at wits end and are very vulnerable.

These traits are valuable. Perhaps you already have quite a few peers who are asbergers? My guess is that a significant % of SW engineers are. Welcome to the minority

So read the details. not all get in. that is a problem for those looking for an instant cure BUT it is an opportunity and savior for some.
better than none

Yeah, who cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619514)

Steve Jobs has died. Whether you loved him or loathed him, or neither, this is much bigger news.

Re:Yeah, who cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619620)

sure he's not just really concentrating on something?

Re:Yeah, who cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620228)

Thank god you told me. Here I thought I was doomed to read about this subject I specifically wanted to read about. Thanks to you I now know something I'm going to be told a thousand times over the next few days. Good job on being fourth, by the way. Out of six billion, that's not bad. Will you be there for the pretentious remembering on the next twenty anniversaries of his death a la Kurt Cobain?

Re:Yeah, who cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622178)

Kurt Cobain is dead? I was just hearing something about him on the news, do we talk about him now?

I honestly think that such AC comments are part of the conservative crap flood by paid reactionary blogger (Koch brothers, et al.). Likely trying to dumb down a conservation about liberal government programs that work socially and economically, especially as it's one of it's featured player is in Chicago; a city they hate as much as any other.

Properly traine software testers (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619578)

do well at software testing. That's really the story here. Autism is irreverent. This very idea is based upon a lot of wrong information about people with Autism.

Re:Properly traine software testers (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619876)

Wish I could mod you up.

Hollywood's sensationalism has brought us the comic-book idea of what is essentially "game balance" in real life. In real life, you don't gain magical super powers just because you're blind and you aren't somehow a super-genius just because you're shy, introverted and obsessed with details. Autism is not a romantic backstory about how a young boy was crippled at an early age and then developed his mental powers to overcome this weakness. One does not gain flaws for points to spend on buying new character features in real life.

It's pretty despicable to see this idea being perpetuated, this dramatic blurb about tortured backroom cripples using their super powers for good... Just stop it.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621200)

It doesn't make you a genius, but it does make you valuable in certain fields. The cytotechnologists who review Pap smears and kick all the remotely abnormal ones to a pathologist are people with a desire to do a repetitive job requiring attention to detail. Accountants, too.

Re:Properly traine software testers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622130)

Wasn't it Darth's and Droids that pointed out that the only way we'll ever know that true geeks have taken over Hollywood is when the hero of every movie is short, ugly, illiterate, and has bad breath to compensate for his clearly above-starting-character level of mysteriously well coordinated skills?

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620206)

Yeah my son plays piano and we attended a graduation ceremony where every child played one piece. One boy spent the whole time fiddling with a bit of string attached to his father's bag. When it was his turn to play his parents prompted him to walk down to the front of the room where he stood for a bit, clearly put off by the number of people there. After a moment he sat down at the piano and played like practically nobody I have ever heard before. Then he finished, walked back to his seat and continued to play with the bit of string. I don't even that this is autism. I think its asbergers. This boy who can only play with string and play piano brilliantly has high functioning autism.

Re:Properly traine software testers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620508)

Those without aspergers have a flawed sense of time and think of intelligence quantitative and comparable they are by definition sociopaths bred by society that lack any self concept to form functioning morality outside of artificial mysticism of religion and fascism, however the inferior handle their "pecking order". It is one thing born knowing you are empty and unknowing but to lie to yourself and call it creativity is what some would refer to as emotion, whereas I would say it is hubris.

Re:Properly traine software testers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620608)

What is this, I don't even.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

internettoughguy (1478741) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621670)

I'm sorry, but you just failed the Turing test.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620688)

I don't even that this is autism. I think its asbergers.

The way you're saying that, it doesn't really make any sense. Think of it like a line between "normal" and (stereotypical) autism. Asperger syndrome is somewhere between them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism_spectrum [wikipedia.org]

Not so sure about that (2, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620874)

Asperger's is a mild form of autism. One of it's characteristics is that the people who have it focus very intently on what they're doing for extended periods of time. As a result, they make excellent programmers and testers because they'll put in hours without even realizing the time has gone by.

In a sense, Asperger's is almost the reverse of ADD.

Re:Not so sure about that (2)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622900)

The interesting thing is that it's common to have both.

Re:Not so sure about that (3, Interesting)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623160)

I wouldn't say it's the reverse. They're more like expressions of the same thing. With ADD, attention is side tracked in many different ways. With Asperger's Syndrome, the attention is stuck on a few special interests. That can work fantastically well if the aspie finds the topic at hand interesting, but can be fantastically awful if the topic is uninteresting. Myself, I have a great deal of trouble focusing on anything I'm not interested in and usually find my thinking returning to my special interest de jour. One trick I use when faced with a boring task is to find a clever or more optimal way to do it, since that challenge can make it more interesting. In either case, the challenge is what makes it easy for me to get in the zone and work at something for hours, but being interrupted while in the zone is frustrating and I'll usually avoid getting in the zone if I'm likely to be interrupted within an hour or two and my output will be low. I often wonder what it's like to be "normal" and to be able to get stuff done while only being half focused (not in the zone).

Re:Not so sure about that (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623596)

An off-topic question:

In your comment, you used the word "aspie", which I've heard a few times before. Is it appropriate for folks who are not autistic to use the term, or is it similar to use of the "N-word" by some black folk?

Just curious :)

Re:Not so sure about that (1)

sosume (680416) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623854)

The term 'aspie' refers to someone presumably diagnosed with the Asperger syndrome. Most visitors here would fit that description.

Re:Not so sure about that (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623968)

Yes, I know. My question was whether it was only appropriate for persons with Asperger's syndrome to use the term, much like it is now somewhat only appropriate for black people to use the word "nigger".

Re:Not so sure about that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37624072)

I often wonder what it's like to be "normal" and to be able to get stuff done while only being half focused (not in the zone).

What you just described in your lengthy reply is that it is like to be "normal".
Nobody gets anything done while being only half focused.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

aXis100 (690904) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620916)

Sure, you can train someone to be a good software tester, but it is so mind-numbingly boring that most people loose focus eventually, take shortcuts and miss those edge cases that is the whole point of software testing.

I guess they are saying that people with Autism have a capacity for detailed, repetitive work that far exceeds regular people.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622920)

Which is what psychologists say as well.

Re:Properly traine software testers (2)

Permutation Citizen (1306083) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623608)

Software testing is not boring. Most people ignore or don't understand what is software testing. They just think it's just about using a software following a given written scenario (the test case). That's only a small part of the job, and when it's repetitive you have to automate it.

Re:Properly traine software testers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37621054)

do well at software testing. That's really the story here. Autism is irreverent. This very idea is based upon a lot of wrong information about people with Autism.

I actually have the gift of Asperger's syndrome, and can safely say, the only programmer I've met in my life (of thousands) who has skills comparable to my own, also had Asperger's (though I didn't learn of that until years after knowing him). I would definitely say Asperger's and Autism aren't even close to one another beyond how much of your life is lived though transforming thoughts (massively introspective thinking relative to others). Asperger's is a stable union of the introspective thought and the ability to interact with others to a manageable degree - for programming it's an unbeatable asset, don't know why these people would confine such valuable talent to the role of testers.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622796)

Because people with worse conditions physically cannot interact properly with other people to find that skill you talk about.

But I have to admit, Asperger's kids love checklists, predictability. They typically have higher IQs that put them as "gifted" until the "dealing with people" factor kicks in.

Personally, I think there are a LOT of accountants and engineers out there with milder versions of the disorder. They have hit a "ceiling" in their jobs because they can't get over the people skills. The aerospace industry of the 70's and 80's with armies of "heads down" engineering and drafting departments would have had high rates of Asperger's if they tested it then. The movie "Falling Down" is like a poster for how Asperger kids/adults feel every day (if a bit sensational)

Like so many other things since the 90's, all these jobs that have removed layers of management that used to insulate a lot of these people that are perfectly functional otherwise. School and work has become all about a much more "forward" teamwork... Less toleration of the guys you just kept in the office and fed work to all day.

My opinion is that it is a BREED trait because even 50 years ago lots of people lived in the country and men did work that required all sorts of skills... Planting, tending animals, fixing stuff, etc. As a kid you were just expected to wander around and "pick it up". Your "Maker" from the 1970's is now "anti-social weird kid" and don't have the "free range" options to do stupid crap like we did 30 years ago.. Somebody is always "worried about" kids playing with stuff they're not supposed to... "Phines an Pherb" crack jokes about that shift all the time.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622926)

Aspergers have normal average level of intelligence but unevenly distributed.

That is actually the prime distuingishing factor from high-functioning autism.

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623004)

I think that a common pair of parents is the "engineer-schoolteacher" combo. Both groups that attract higher intelligences, both groups that attract list, detail, slightly socially reserved people. I think the combo brings out the effect more because they tend to be "by the numbers" type parents, but not overly touchy-feely. They have all the things around for the child to display the higher intelligence... But they miss the signs that the child's not acting and responding like a KID should. We tend to not worry about social interactions, or most kids only interact with adults, until kids go to school.. At which point you missed a chance to start therapy to adapt.

Re:Properly traine software testers (5, Insightful)

Diamonddavej (851495) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621076)

Autism is not irrelevant. Cognitive style of autism can be positively used in employment, once a workplace understands autism's specific strengths. The most salient features are Weak Central Coherence and Need for Routine. If workplace adapts to the autistic cognitive style, everyone will benefit. There is too much focus on deficits rather then splinter skills and cognitive strengths.

Weak Central Coherence - means autistic people are detail obsessed, they observe smallest parts and elements of the environment, and construct the overall picture from individual parts. This is ideal for identifying and spotting anomalies in software, identifying mistakes, dealing with information. For example, it's been known for years that autistic people are far superior in locating hidden features in the Embedded Figures Test.

Need for Routine - repetitive and otherwise boring tasks are soothing, enjoyed and relaxing. Furthermore, attention is not lost nor mistakes made, when autistic person is engaged in repetitive tasks.

Re:Properly traine software testers (3, Funny)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621216)

Autism is irreverent.

Man, I don't go in for formality either, but I don't think autism is any more irreverent than any other disease. ~

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

Andtalath (1074376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622892)

It's not a disease.
A disease can be cured.

This is a personality type which happens to have trouble with a lot of things normal people take for granted while being strong in other aspects which may or may not be helpful.

Re:Properly traine software testers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622240)

I think the word you were looking for is "irrelevant."

Re:Properly traine software testers (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622480)

This very idea is based upon a lot of wrong information about people with Autism.

Well, it probably does depend on the kind of autism someone has.

Re:Properly traine software testers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622642)

really? and you would know something about Autism? or SW Testing? Fact is that a high number for folks WHO ALREADY work as SW Engineers/tester are Asbergers or on the spectrum. This gives them qualities that make them difficult to work with, but potentially exceptional at SW Testing. For more severe cases it doesn't work as the rigidities or sensitivities/other aspect will overwhelm them. They also need to be high functioning. You do have to alter your expectations and the typical management techniques need a bit of specialization.

Re:Properly traine software testers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37623726)

wow, that's a lot of typos. maybe you should hire some autistic kid to proofread your posts

"I thought what I'd do was..." (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37619698)

Wasn't this an episode of Ghost in the Shell?

and alot of companies don't do much testing at all (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37619832)

Now out side debuggers / testers do have there up's and downs but at times having ones that are in the same place as the people doing the coding is better with less trun around time.

Now I hope that they are being payed for the long hours with full over time pay.

Re:and alot of companies don't do much testing at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620440)

What.. what language are you typing in? It *looks* like english but I actually stroked three times trying to make sense of it.

Re:and alot of companies don't do much testing at (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37623480)

Nice honeypot for autistic grammar nazis, dude.

Re:and alot of companies don't do much testing at (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623568)

I would say that testing your own code is the worst thing to do, as you know how it works and will (possibly subconsciously) input data which will either work, or bomb out gracefully. By all means to some quick debugging yourself, but you need fresh eyes to test your system properly.

It just so happens that aspies seem to perform this task remarkably well.

Tv interview with verizon in Louvain (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620152)

http://www.deredactie.be/permalink/1.1086311 if you speak Dutch, since they advertised in the local paper for people with autism.

So that explains it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620416)

I always thought those QA folks were special.

sure.. dismiss the uniqueness of aspergers (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37620492)

I have asperger.. I'm glad that there's more & more peeps who see that its not a disability; but rather a unique way of looking at the world.

Its really not the same worldpicture you 'normals' see... I can really get upset if i see 'wrongs' in this world. Just as i feel in a way that it's the same as seeing 'wrongs' in software or hardware. I wont be able to put it behind me; or just to buy something to make me feel good... Or just accept that my boss says its the rigth thing; or that there's no money or something 'reasonable' like that.

You talk about training.. Its not training; its in the core being who you are. Are you dedicated enough to spend ALL your energy (&that's the same amount of energy that you have) in trying to get the job done.. to find ALL the things that are wrong with something? (& not be at home spending time on your cat/girl/man/car/career/whatever).

Peeps who have the same as i have, generally can focus ALL of their attention to the project they are dedicated to. Totally emerce yourself in a project; even if it takes longer than you think; even if it means skipping a few days of sleep..

I'm sure you are a dedicated individual; that has the ability to do his/her job right.. But i generally don't see the (not negatively meant) singlemindedness/focus i can put in something that interest me.

I can see that there are cases that let Asperger's syndrome be an advantage (the same way as i have seen it being a disadvantage in my life sometimes) when checking out something.

Too bad you dismiss it as irrelevant. Maybe someday in the future you will understand the pro's and cons of someone with asperger.

I'm glad my current employer understands... I do know she's happy that i'm there; even though i sometimes do things 'normals' dont expect, or do. & sometimes i cost more of her energy..

I also know that i've saved the company a lot of resources just because i happen to think 'out of the box' & do things my way; not the way peeps expect you to be/perform.

Re:sure.. dismiss the uniqueness of aspergers (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620788)

You sir talk a lot for an aspie.....

Re:sure.. dismiss the uniqueness of aspergers (3, Insightful)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622772)

Online essays don't necessarily point either way -- my text messages often span over 3 messages (diagnosed nearly 5 years ago, had plenty of time to deal with the symptoms), and I've read about a high-functioning autistic guy who's one of the best speechwriters in America (Send in the Idiots, a short book if anyone is interested). Check out some of the posts over at wrongplanet [wrongplanet.net] some time if you don't believe me; sitting behind a screen makes it a lot easier to communicate, as one can think about what they want to say and take their time with it. Also, there's nothing like body language to compound the difficulty of communicating.

Re:sure.. dismiss the uniqueness of aspergers (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621218)

Your Asperger's apparently does not extend to grammar or punctuation.

Re:sure.. dismiss the uniqueness of aspergers (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622836)

Actually, learning to leave mistakes in writing and "just write" is a big part of coping as a kid. I'd bet the GP that typed that could tell you every typo in the post. From memory. Getting past the errors is what Asperger's kids in particular cannot get over. They have mini panic attacks over every little mistake. It looks like ADD because they cannot process past life's little hiccups and retreat to something routine and familiar, like meaningless facts.

Obvious things obvious (1)

n30na (1525807) | more than 2 years ago | (#37620746)

Seriously, I'm pretty sure Autism traits are just generally valuable in many programming and computer related situations, and it is not at all uncommon for engineers to have some basic Autistic traits. I kinda thought this was common knowledge.

Still, it's nice seeing an effort to integrate some of those have have more social issues into productive jobs.

Welcome to genetic specialization of humanity (1)

Prune (557140) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621428)

The title says it all. It's just a logical extension of division of labor, really. Forget the current reprogenetics tendencies and the development of genetic screening of embryos; in short order we'll be making better workers. I can just imagine the advertisements for workers with genes turned off for boredom for repetitive low skill tasks, soldiers with atrophied brain areas responsible for emotion, and all the other goodies. Welcome to the new utopia/dystopia (depending on whether you're an employer or employee).

Re:Welcome to genetic specialization of humanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37623734)

genes turned off for boredom for repetitive low skill tasks, soldiers with atrophied brain areas responsible for emotion, and all the other goodies

I guess I'm ahead of my time. My mind wanders during repetitive tasks so I don't get bored easily. I'm not very emotional, and I'm well endowed with "goodies" as you put it ;)

Board is larger than the rest of the company? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621722)

Aspiritech's board of directors includes
social service providers, (?)
therapists, (?)
a vocational expert (1)
and a software engineer. (1)

Aspiritech has hired and trained seven recruits with Asperger's syndrome. (7)

Something is wrong with this picture.

Re:Board is larger than the rest of the company? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622112)

The board isn't necessarily full-time. The employees probably are.

Re:Board is larger than the rest of the company? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622880)

My son would take a LOT of work on social skills to "just work". But he would be VERY good at something like what is posted. Give him a clear checklist of expectations and good tools designed to stay on task and I could see him fitting that job.

With the state of the job markets now, my kid would never survive the modern sociopath interview process to get that exact same work at a "normal" company.

Pham Nuwen Would Not Approve (3, Insightful)

Flere Imsaho (786612) | more than 2 years ago | (#37621910)

Maybe it's just me, but this reminds me of focus from Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky.

Re:Pham Nuwen Would Not Approve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622528)

Nope, that was my first thought as well. Great book, that, I've never been disappointed with Vinge.

Re:Pham Nuwen Would Not Approve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37623236)

Exactly what i thought!

Dad lets me test code on the driveway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37621976)

...But not on Monday, definitely not on Monday. I'm an excellent tester...

Uh oh, fart.

Dad lets me drive slow on the driveway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622046)

...But not on Monday, definitely not on Monday. I'm an excellent driver...

Uh oh, fart.

Train? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622084)

I have asperger's syndrome, and I need no training for computers, I just learn about them. I learned PHP, C# C++, and Java at 13 (or was it earlier), and written my own cms using PHP and SQL. At 14 I started using MongoDB, for its usefulness in a cms.

Re:Train? (1)

bussdriver (620565) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622236)

Asperger's syndrome is not Autism. As for it being in the "spectrum" that is unproven; just because some outward traits overlap on the edge of both doesn't mean that they are indeed connected. Eventually it may be proven one is genetic and the other is biological or partially developmental. The connection between the two may not exist or it may be weak; but we must lump the whole group into 1 area for some reason. Perhaps it is because normal people are not that smart? Its one thing to not care about a subject and its another to over simplify it and perpetuate that.

Re:Train? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622952)

It's on the spectrum because modern understanding of Autism is more about the part of the head that interacts, mimics, copies, predicts what other people do seems to be broken. As they understand Autism, it is a separate thing from retardation. Most Autistic kids have reasonable normal IQs... The thing that automagically learns language, mannerisms, facial expressions is broken.

Asperger's kids share that link because they can only interact with what is spelled out.. Teasing about childish things becomes severe because they mentally think something is VERY wrong.. They are INCAPABLE of "getting the joke". The opposite is also true. They get fixated on something different about somebody and that "dog with a bone" reflex kicks in and the cannot understand that their inquiries hurt other people's feelings.

High functioning (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622420)

By specifically using high functioning autistic people, you are already making the exemption that invalidates the whole concept. High functioning means that they can more or less function in a normal environment, doing normal work and living a normal work. Over 10% of the IT workforce I've been in the last 10 years, has been high functioning autistic people, including administrators, DBAs, penetration testers, indeed software testers, and even a team leader. Come back when you can use every "rain man" offered to you in your company and I'll start thinking you have done something out of the ordinary.

Re:High functioning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37622738)

now where is my clue stick.... "you are already making the exemption that invalidates the whole concept". No it doesn't. "High functioning" is NOT related to or imply equivalency to typical peers ( the "normal' folks). It's simply an artificial designation that they can function without a lot of help relative to others on the spectrum. the peers you talk of are Asbergers VERY high function and most like NEVER diagnosed. You wouln't even freaking know it unless you had some training or had been around them.

Fact is there are very few true savants - "Rain man" - and they usually have other 'disabilitiies that may make it difficult to use them or even fit in.

There are MANY folks with the type of sensitivities / rigidities that are potentially perfect - IFF targeted properly. some diagnosed and others NOT. They most likely will never be like typical peers but given the proper nurturing and empathetic environment, can go on to contribute and have a rewarding life rather than be a burden to their families and society.

open your mind

Apparently they've decided on the salary (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37622704)

It's about a hundred dollars...

Asperger's Syndrome? (1)

Krokus (88121) | more than 2 years ago | (#37623196)

"Aspiritech has hired and trained seven recruits with Asperger's syndrome."

I thought everybody had Asperger's these days.

Good at software testing bad at communication (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37623938)

We have a autistic guy on our development team, great at analysing complex problems and finding the root cause. Terrible at communicating that knowledge to others. Very challenging to work with at times takes a lot of managing.

Odd (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#37624082)

Maybe evolution is one step ahead on this one.

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