IEET > Rights > HealthLongevity > CognitiveLiberty > Economic > Personhood > Vision > Affiliate Scholar > Melanie Swan
The Real Question is How to Further Develop Autism-related Skills
Melanie Swan   Jul 23, 2013   Broader Perspective  

On the topic of autism, the two biggest areas of societal focus are first, the growing population of ASD (autism spectrum disorder) individuals (1/88 live births in the US; 66% college graduates on the ASD spectrum are unemployed), and second, providing resources for normalizing ASD individuals into day-to-day life activities such as work, housing, and dating.


However the forward-looking neurodiversity view is to focus on the further development of ASD individuals as opposed to (or perhaps in opposition to) ‘normalization.’ If ASD individuals can do certain kinds of projects well (e.g.; like focusing intensively a single detailed topic, and finding patterns and exceptions), what can they do really well, and enjoy developing more fully?

One of the first deployments of the ASD skillset is commercial, in software programming where employers are well aware of the benefit of 3% error rates in computer code created by ASD programmers (vs. 18% by neurotypical programmers). Job sites like NonPareil, Semperical, and Specialists Guild are already catering to ASD programming skills. 

A more comprehensive suite of employment-related services for the ASD market was presented at the Autism Hackathon held in San Francisco July 20-21, 2013 by MindFlower. MindFlower is the idea for an eLabor marketplace that proposes to offer two kinds of ASD-skillset related activities: Mechanical Turk-like projects in the vertical markets of big data analysis, life sciences omics, and patent and literature search, and Kaggle-like data science competitions on supercomputer-unsolvable problems. Spectrum skill assessment and development are other features of the site, along with ASD-friendly advertising.

Image credit: Kimberly Pickard
Melanie Swan, MBA, is an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET. Ms. Swan, principal of the MS Futures Group, is a philosopher, science and technology futurist, and options trader.

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