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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Autism, STEM, and Microsoft

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss employment prospects and education for people on the spectrum.

Parija Kavilanz  reports at CNN:
STEM3 Academy largely focuses on "STEM" subjects: science, technology, engineering and math). Teachers there use a "flipped classroom" model. This means that time in class is used to complete projects and homework assignments, while time at home is spent reviewing the next day's lessons.
The Los Angeles school took an out-of-the-box approach for a specific reason: All of its students have a learning challenge, like autism-spectrum disorder, Asperger's and ADHD.
The students are especially gifted in subjects like math and science, but have fallen behind in their social and communication skills. (The curriculum also includes traditional subjects like English, art and language.)
"As far as we know, we're the nation's only STEM-curriculum school for students with these needs," said Crasnow. "Our goal is to help them realize their potential for achievement in school, in college and later in a STEM-based career."
STEM3 Academy is part of The Help Group, a nonprofit that runs 10 special-needs focused schools in the L.A. area. It opened as a high school with 30 students in August 2015. As word spread, Crasnow started getting calls from parents nationwide. Two months later, it added middle school. The school now has 60 students in grades 6-12.
Cathaleen Chen reports at The Christian Science Monitor:
n a 2012 study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, scientists found that students diagnosed with autism had the highest STEM participation rates. By examining 11,000 students nationwide, they found that young adults diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder chose STEM majors in college more often than their peers in the general population – 34 percent versus less than 23 percent.
Jennifer Warnick writes at Microsoft:
On April 1, about the same time [Kyle] Schwaneke was wondering whether he’d soon need to move back in with his parents, Microsoft’s Mary Ellen Smith stepped before the representatives of 193 countries at United Nations (U.N.) Headquarters in New York City. It was World Autism Day and Smith, corporate vice president of worldwide operations, announced that Microsoft was about to launch a pilot program to hire people with autism. In the months since the program began, Microsoft has hired 11 new employees who have autism and is actively seeking candidates for more open positions.