Every parent worries about how their child will support themselves when they grow up. Will they choose the right career? Will they earn enough? Will the working world be kind to them?
Parents of children of autism have extra worries. They know that their child is smart and capable, but the world may only see someone who’s different. The unemployment rate for college-educated adults with autism is 85 percent, and young adults with autism face greater unemployment rates than people with other disabilities.
But more companies are looking into hiring people with autism because of the unique assets they bring to the workforce. Companies like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and EY are seeking people with autism to fill tech-specific careers not because of some sort of diversity quota, but because of the value they bring to the workplace.
Education programs and employers alike are noticing that many people with autism excel in computer science careers that require the coding skills that others find intimidating. Coding languages are what computer programmers use to write computer programs—they’re the backend of every program and website. There is growing demand for employees with coding skills, and because people with autism often enjoy coding, teaching the skill to children on the spectrum is often a win-win situation.
Let’s be clear: not everyone with autism wants to code. We don’t want to generalize every person with autism as a techie or get into the “rain man” mentality. But there are several characteristics of coding that make it a good fit for many people on the spectrum. Here are 6 reasons more people with autism are getting into coding:
1. Coding is logical and predictable
In an unpredictable world, coding languages rely on strict rules. The same code will always get the same results, and if the results are different, then there was a mistake in the code that needs to be discovered and corrected. Because children with autism are usually left-brain dominant, logical and predictable processes like the ones in coding are often more attractive to them.
Part of code writing involves creating conditional statements (if this, then that) that follow rules that don’t change based on emotions or nuance. The rigidity of the processes and routines of coding are often welcome to someone with autism.
2. Coding Requires Hyper-focused Attention to Detail
While a neurotypical person may be frustrated with the minutia of coding languages and lose interest, people with autism tend to be able to focus in and make sure each piece of code is perfect. Writing the code for web pages or computer programs, as well as other technical tasks such as updating databases and using analytics, requires a lot of precision and repetition. Positions requiring these skills play to many of the strengths of people with autism.
“NEXT” for reasons 3 through 6
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.