An interesting NPR story from last week drew attention to the fact that young adults on the autism spectrum can thrive in tech jobs, which begs the question: Should medical device companies start looking at the 50,000 students with autism who will graduate high school this year as potential hires?
The NPR story focused on the nonPareil Institute, a program in Plano, TX, that provides technical training in areas such as software programming, digital design, and 3-D modeling to people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The institute's students already have apps in the Mac App Store and on Google Play.
Neurologist Patricia Evans, of Dallas's Children's Medical Center, told NPR's Lauren Silverman that people with autims can be well-suited to jobs in the tech sector. "They may really flourish at engineering type tasks or computer design type tasks, where their interaction with people is somewhat limited," she said, adding that people on the autism spectrum often have the ability to focus intensly on a project.
But there are still obstacles to be overcome. A New York Times Magazine story from last year cited a study that found more than half of people with autism in the United States dont' attend college or find jobs within 24 months of graduating from high school.
Jamie Hartford is the managing editor of MD+DI.