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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Autism Job Club

At Fox and Hounds, Michael Bernick writes:
In the workforce field, as in other fields, most start-ups will need to pivot several times to survive. So it is with our Bay Area Autism Job Club. The Autism Job Club is a project of AASCEND (Autism, Asperger Syndrome Coalition for Education, Networking and Development), the volunteer Bay Area group for adults on the autistic spectrum. We have undertaken three employment strategies since 2011, and each strategy has changed course at least one time. 
The Autism Employment Network is to draw on family, relatives, friends and neighbors of people with autism, to identify job openings and assist in retention. We have found slow going in building such a Network—jobs are scarce, everyone is deluged with employment requests, most of all it is highly labor intensive to contact potential Network members, and we are all volunteers.
The Autism Employment Training Venture:  Conventional wisdom is that persons on the autistic spectrum possess unusual skills for software testing. In truth such skills probably are held by a small segment of persons on the spectrum. However, the perception of unusual skills  has led to a number of high profile business ventures to directly employ persons on the spectrum in software testing. 
  The viability of these businesses remains in doubt. Specialisterne, the best-known of these businesses, started in Denmark in 2004, has grown to a reported 50 employees in 2011, though its growth has been fueled by the generous employment subsidies through the central Danish government. Aspiritech in Illinois is struggling, and Semperical, in the Silicon Valley, has delayed its start as it restructures its business plan.
 The Job Club itself, an effort of job search skill mastery and mutual support among persons on the spectrum, is starting its third cycle on September 28.