Sun Jun 2, 2013, 09:00 AM
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Berlin company specializes in autistic IT experts
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, June 2, 2013 8:42 EDT
When German software giant SAP said last month it plans to employ hundreds of autistic people as IT experts, the news was welcomed especially at a small Berlin computer consulting firm.
The pioneering company, Auticon, already employs 17 people who live with autism, the disorder characterised by difficulties with social interactions and exceptional abilities in specific fields.
“Many people say that if a company like SAP said it makes sense… it’s very good for us,” said its chief Dirk Mueller-Remus. “That means it’s something serious, solid.”
Its goal is that by 2020, people with autism will make up one percent of its worldwide workforce of 65,000.
Mueller-Remus created his far smaller company in November 2011 with the idea of “investing in the strengths” of these potential employees.
His son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a variant of autism, as a teenager, and Mueller-Remus has long known that many people with autism excel in fields like programming or quality control.
“This is my talent,” one of the employees, 27-year-old Melanie Altrock, stated matter of factly, sitting at her screen in a white-walled, modern top-floor office in western Berlin.
“Other people are interested in languages or math, for me it’s computers. I don’t just search for errors, I see them.”
But he also emphasised that working with autistic people can be “a very complex issue”.
“We can make many mistakes because people with Asperger are very demanding people,” he said.
“People with autism are very concrete, unequivocal,” added Elke Seng, a “job coach” at Auticon who assists the employees in their relationships at work and with clients.
“There is no innuendo, there is only one or zero. It’s rather nice,” she smiled.
Friedrich Nolte, board member of the Federal Association for the Development of People with Autism, said “only five to 10 percent of people affected by autism find a place on the regular job market”.
Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/02/berlin-company-specialises-in-autistic-it-experts/
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