Aspergers and Programming

Posted on May 12, 2011

Inc Magazine recently wrote an article on [seven unconventional ways to hire the best people with technology skills][]. Most of them are actually agonizingly normal. Offering rewards to people who refer new hires, poaching the top talent from other companies with alluring bonuses and higher salaries… things we all know. The only really unconventional tip was to deliberately hire people with Asperger’s Syndrome.

I know this is a competitive market, but really?

The article is completely ignorant of what exactly Asperger’s is. It is not a condition that marks you as a genius or a savant. People with Asperger’s just think differently than most people. They tend to become obsessed with a particular subject, display repetitive behaviour, misuse speech, lack empathy, and sometimes are clumsy as well. While some see these as symptoms to be cured, I think most people with Aspergers can tell you they can get along just fine in society. However, it’s not without its challenges and I think for the people they work with it’s best if everyone is aware of those challenges and are positive they can support one another to over come them.

However this article makes it sound like you should hire someone who has Asperger’s because it’s the “engineers disease” and that it can be exploited. It makes people with Asperger’s sound like they’ve won the birth lottery. It’s as if having Aspergers is like being born exceptionally tall — if you happen to have an affinity for basketball, you can make lots of money in the NBA. I think this view is ignorant.

If you’re considering hiring someone who has come forward with their diagnosis, be aware.

[seven unconventional ways to hire the best people with technology skills]: http://