What is Autism?

At Focus Professional Services, we employ individuals on the autism spectrum. While living with autism brings certain challenges, our employees also have extraordinary skills that are well-suited to software testing and data management. These strengths include:

  • intense focus, concentration, and perseverance
  • high degree of accuracy, precision, and attention to detail
  • ability to recognize patterns and spot irregularities
  • comfort with repetitive tasks
  • unique ways of filtering information
  • openness to seeing things exactly as they are
  • extraordinary sense of duty
  • passion for the world of technology

Autism is a complex neurological difference that, to varying degrees, affects individuals in:

  • the ability to relate to others
  • speech
  • repetitious behaviours
  • sensorimotor processing

For autistics, difficulty in relating to others is often experienced as social awkwardness. Individuals on the autism spectrum may:

  • take what people say literally
  • fail to pick up on social cues and body language
  • find jokes and sarcasm challenging
  • avoid social contact, which is not the same as not wanting to connect with people

Some autistics develop speech normally, then lose it at around age two. For others, speech can be delayed by several years. Others develop early speech and use language beyond their years, sounding like little professors. Advanced communications technology has shown us that lack of speech has no bearing on a person’s comprehension or intellect.

Autistics with a low threshold for anxiety may seek comfort from repetitious behaviours such as pacing and fidgeting.

Sensorimotor processing can also be affected. Autistics can be hypo- and hyper-sensitive to touch, sound, sight, taste, and smell. They may not be able to make eye contact with you while listening at the same time. If challenged in motor skills or proprioception, they may have trouble printing well, tying shoelaces, walking straight, or judging where they are in relation to objects or people.

Despite these challenges, people with autism offer a different perspective and experience of the world. In their specific interest areas, whether arts, sciences, politics, or day-to-day life, they offer valuable strengths and talents to the world at large. To flourish, autistics need to be respected and valued for who they are, as they are.

In BC, an estimated 25,000 people are on the autism spectrum, aged 19-65. Most of them are unemployed or underemployed. With employment, individuals on the spectrum can acquire greater economic independence, contribute inclusively in a meaningful way, and enjoy a higher quality of life.