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Matching people with autism to tech jobs in Utah

Dignitaries break ground for the 85 North Apartments in Provo on Thursday, March 18, 2021. The seven-story, 74-unit building aims to address the shortage of affordable units for senior citizens, the disabled and adults with autism. ScenicView Academy student Harrison Peterson, right, hopes to move into the apartment building after its completion. Laura Seitz, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — People with autism often are a great fit for tech jobs, but they struggle to get through the interview process. A global consulting firm that helps place them in tech-sector jobs has just opened an office in South Salt Lake.

Louise Stone, head of recruitment and community partnerships at Auticon.us, joined Inside Sources on KSL NewsRadio to discuss helping adults on the autistic spectrum find jobs in Utah’s tech sector.

The unemployment rate for adults on the autism spectrum is around 85%.

“If you think about a traditional interview process, it’s a very high stress environment that’s relying on things like eye contact and social interactions, not just on the skills needed for the job that you’re applying for,” Stone said.

Why tech jobs work well for adults on the autism spectrum

Stone first wanted to dispel a stereotype out there that people with autism only excel at tech jobs. 

“I’m autistic myself, and I can’t even code a single line,” said Stone.

She pointed out that there is a large tech-talent gap. That matches up with the high unemployment numbers for adults with autism.

People on the autism spectrum will look at data just for the data, absent biases and preconceived notions, Stone said. She added people with autism do well with repetitive tasks and following a strict routine; people without autism, on the other hand, often feel depleted or burnt out by doing the same thing over and over.

Why Auticon chose Utah for its new office

 There is a higher level of autism in Utah and in the Salt Lake area, she said. 

“It’s one of the highest in the entire country.”

The other reason? The Wasatch Front in general, and the Silicon Slopes area surrounding Lehi specifically, boasts plentiful job opportunities in the tech sector.

“So, it’s a great market to break into,” Stone said.

She added that Auticon designed its job-recruiting process as autism-friendly; the company does no traditional interviews. 

“We lead with a series of chats and also some skills assessments so that we’re really going to get to know our candidate, both . . . their personalities and their needs. We’re also going to get to know their actual skill depth,” Stone said.

Stone said you can contact Auticon.us by sending an email to info@auticon.us.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson can be heard weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.  

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