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Business is still scared of autism

posted 20 Jan 2015, 11:16 by Valerie Carlin   [ updated 20 Jan 2015, 11:16 by Jan Szafranski ]

HR departments don’t understand the value of candidates with autism spectrum disorder, say experts – and that could mean they are unintentionally discriminating

The fate of the UK’s oldest investment bank could have been very different if someone had recognised the fault in the numbers. It may be a little far-fetched to suggest an employee with Asperger’s Syndrome might have spotted Nick Leeson’s systematic speculative trading before it sank Barings Bank in 1995, but experts suggest that the types of detection and recognition skills that are typically associated with people on the autism spectrum could be just what businesses need to keep systems in check.

The poor communication skills of some autistic candidates can be off-putting to employers who increasingly value teamwork and emotional intelligence. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Brundage: plenty of people on the spectrum are leaders in their fields, including actuaries, software testers and proof-readers. The Autism Project at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital has placed hundreds of people into vital backroom and patient-facing roles in the NHS.