Germany company hires Asperger autists as software testers

    8:10 AM, Jan 3, 2013   |    comments
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    BERLIN, Germany (CNN) -- People with autism often have trouble fitting into the working world. But a German company may have developed a way to provide new opportunities for some living with the disorder.

    In the late 1980's, the movie Rain Man showed worldwide audiences that people with autism not only have deficits, but often also huge talents. While Hollywood may have oversimplified the issue, there are links to the real world.

    Because of their condition, people with autism often have trouble integrating into the working world. Now a Berlin company wants to give people with a form of autism known as Asperger syndrome new pportunities.

    The firm is called Auticon and is training dozens to become software testers. Philip von der Linden is one of the new hires. He says it is the first time he truly feels valued as an employee, saying, "That is what makes life valuable. To be needed. And if what you can do is appreciated and if what seems to be a weakness is turned into an asset."

    Management at Auticon says they've found that some people with Aspergers have a knack for finding patterns and flaws in gigantic calculations - and that makes them perfect software testers.

    Owner Dirk Mueller-Remus founded the company when his own son was diagnosed with Aspergers. He says, ""Our guys have a lot of skills in concentration, analytical/logical thinking and things like that. And we are sure the industries, the IT industry will have benefits."

    But only about 15 percent are employed in the private sector, according to the German government, that's largely because of their difficulties with social interactions. That's why Auticon has job coaches to help its employees with customer relations. Something psychologists say is key trying to give Asperger autist a chance in the working world.

    Isabel Dziobek with Free University Berlin says, "They do look at the assets that people with autism have and then basically try to construct the work conditions around that so that the autistic individuals can use their skills at the same time reducing social demands."

    In the movie Rain Main, the character's skills are used to make a lot of money gambling in Las Vegas. Auticon's goals are more down to earth not only making profit, but they say, making a difference in the lives of their workers.

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