Trade secrets from the autistic mind: How autistic people think, and what we can learn from them.
“Recent data and my own personal experience suggest it's time to start thinking of autism as an advantage in some spheres, not a cross to bear.”
Dr. Laurent Mottron
Companies from Microsoft through Hewlett Packard to the British intelligence agency GCHQ are hiring autistic employees, not for any specific individual capabilities, but because being autistic brings a unique skill set. Software giant SAP have set themselves the target of having 1% of their 65,000 workforce on the autistic spectrum by 2020.
Alongside these companies, a number of consultancies such as Specialisterne have sprung up offering the services of people on the autistic spectrum. What sets these employees apart is being referred to as “the autism advantage”. What they bring to these companies is a competitive edge.
Attributes of people on the autistic spectrum include:
- enhanced focus, concentration and perseverance
- outstanding attention to detail
- a propensity for logical thinking
- an analytical mindset
- ability to recognise patterns and spot irregularities
- unique ways of filtering information
In looking at this list of capabilities, we can see what autists are able to do - but not how they’re doing it. Just what processes and techniques lie behind this autism advantage? How does the autistic brain function that gives autistic people an edge?
This site is an attempt to start answering these and related questions. It explores autistic thinking, with a focus on how autistic people approach decision-making and problem-solving: human cognitive behaviour and choice from an autistic point of view.
The context for this is not simply learning about autists, but also learning from us. As Temple Grandin says, the world needs all kinds of minds.
“I now laugh when I realise how much money the federal government and leading industries spend on training critical employees how to ‘think autistically’, even if they don’t realise that is what they are doing.”
John Marble, White House appointee under President Obama, and autistic.
University of Montreal. (2011)
(Laurent Mottron is a full professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Montreal and “Chercheur National” with Quebec Health Research Fund. He holds the Marcel and Rolande Gosselin research chair on cognitive neuroscience in autism of the Montreal University. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on autism.)
Temple Grandin. (2010)
The Autism Advantage (New York Times)
Autism's Hidden Gifts (The Atlantic)
The Business Case for Hiring Autistic Team Members (Auticon UK)