Embrace the potential of Autism | Lars Johansson-Kjellerød | TEDxArendal


Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Marta Palacio I am a founder of an IT company
that does software testing. We perform software testing
for our clients. I know that it doesn’t sound
that exciting, but what makes us a little bit
more interesting is that we only employ people
with Asperger syndrome. Yes. We only employ people
with Asperger syndrome. And why do we do that? You might ask. Well, there’s one simple answer
to that question, and that is that they do it better. They test software better than others. So it’s easy for me. So, why do they test this better? I will try to highlight that
in my talk today, and explain a little bit why. But I will get back to that shortly. One per cent of the population is seemed to be on the autism spectrum. One out of 100. There’s a lot of people here today so maybe I have
some potential employees here, but then you have to be unemployed;
that’s a criterion also. Asperger syndrome
is the mildest form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome often have difficulties
to interact with other people, and also communicate with other people. They find that very hard,
and they can find it hard. Unfortunately, they also have difficulties
to enter the ordinary job market. And are often left outside
the ordinary markets. That is, of course, a waste of talent, because they have a set of unique skills that can be taken advantage of. So, let me get back to the why;
why are they better? I want to share a story with you, and it goes seven years back, when I started this company. It was me and four people
with Asperger syndrome. We were going to help a client of ours
to test complicated software. Actually, it was our first client,
a big telco company, that believed in our idea. We started in the offices of our clients, and we were giving a big project room – well, not that big; actually.
It was 6×4 meters, so… – But in this project room, you could take notes,
you could write on the walls. That was what we did, because we were going
to learn complicated software that we were going to test. So going along, we took notes,
wrote down what we learned, and after a while, those walls
were covered with notes, of course. After a while, I also noticed that one
of the guys with Asperger syndrome got very tired. So, during breaks, he would lay down on the floor and slept. He took a nap. This was new to me, because I haven’t been
in that situation before, so I asked him, “Is there something wrong?
I see that you get very tired.” He said, “Yes, there is something wrong. Because I can’t stop reading those notes; I read them all the time, every minute, every hour, every day. Constantly, I read those notes on the wall and that makes my brain overloaded.” Of course, we took care of that. We erased the notes and created
an environment he could function in, and we learned the software and tested it,
and that client was happy – thank God for that. Why am I telling this story? It’s because I also entered the same room, at the same time as he did, and I did not get tired. I don’t have Asperger syndrome, but he got awfully tired as I said. Because I have a filter
that many of us do. Because when I entered that room, after a while, I didn’t notice
those notes on the wall. They were just there for me. But it was not the same for him. He couldn’t block them out. He lacked the filter that we all have. That is of course a problem
in his ordinary daily life, because there’s a lot of impressions for example, taking the bus,
doing normal stuff makes many people exhausted. But it also can be
a really great advantage, and to us, that’s an asset, because if you are going to test
complicate software as we do, then it’s about seeing the things
that others can’t see. So, to find a bug,
an error in the software, that’s something he’s really good at,
because he’s lacking the filter. Many people with Asperger syndrome
have enhanced senses. They can be very sensible to light, sound, smell, taste, and all different impressions. And this is, of course
– or it can be, as I mentioned – something hard, get the life to go by, but handled correctly, it also can be a real asset. And that is one example. People with Asperger also have a tendency to use the left side
of the brain a little bit more. And on the left side, we have the logical thinking,
the analytical thinking, and also the ability to see details. This is also, as I mentioned, something that is highly valuable in the area that we operate in. So, if we can create an environment
to take advantage of this, that is of course an asset. But that is also a part of, I think, why they have difficulties
in interacting with other people, with the social interaction
with other people. This is me, 35 years ago; seven years old, smiling, happy, naive. I still am, probably. As I mentioned,
I don’t have Asperger syndrome, but when I was a little kid,
– and still is the case, actually – I was quite fascinated by how easily I could remember things
that I was interested in. And that was the case. When I was seven years old,
I was really interested in ice hockey. Everything to me was ice hockey. So, names, numbers, different teams,
team members, and everything; read it once, and it was just there. And that was lovely, of course. And grammar – well, English grammar,
as you might notice today – was not a thing I was so interested in. So… well… It didn’t come that easy. I think most people can [relate] to that, because if you’re interested in a thing it’s much more easy, of course,
to learn a certain stuff. People with Asperger Syndrome,
often have a tendency to have a narrow interest and like to dig down into [things]
and really get into [inaudible]. If you could take that interest, and make it a part of your company,
as we have done – All the employees in our company
are interested in IT, of course. So, interest is also extremely important,
and also an asset to our company, but also something that people
with Asperger syndrome are good at. We also have to create
an environment in our company where these people can function in, so that they can perform their work, do a great job and also excel
in what they are doing. As I mentioned, in terms
of different people have different needs, we, of course, try to create
an environment suited for those people. Our company is, of course,
maybe not the ordinary IT company. We do it our way, or the autism way,
if we should put it that way. So, we do things
a little bit differently; we do. Not that much,
but to some [extent]. Our Christmas parties, of course… (Laughter) They are a little bit different
from the other companies’, I guess. (Laughter) This is me getting my ass kicked
at gaming a couple of years ago. This is what we do; we game, we eat, we drink,
we game some more, and we have fun. And this is the typical environment
that is on their terms, and they liked it that way. And that’s why we do that. I hope I’ve given you some insight and also the answer to the question of why we only people with Asperger syndrome. These are some of the reasons. And why they are also better;
because as I’ve mentioned, if you could take a person
who lacks the filter, for example, but also has the skills needed, the analytical thinking,
the logical thinking, the ability to see the details
that others can’t see, and can combine these with a great interest
in the field he performs in, well, then you have the answer
to that question, of course. That is what we have done in my company, and that’s why we have seen
the potential within, and also embraced the potential of autism. I would also like to encourage
all of you to do the same; to embrace the potential of autism. Thank you. (Applause)

15 thoughts on “Embrace the potential of Autism | Lars Johansson-Kjellerød | TEDxArendal

  1. Maybe it's not a Syndrom, maybe it's just the next version of human evolution. The digital environment human 2.0.

  2. yo can someone copy this business model with a game studio? id love to be in a supportive environment like that while making concept art

  3. I have heard a number of these videos and I have been misdiagnosed for a very long time. I would like to find someone like him that has an environment that I can excel in unlike what I have been in for many decades now… I would like to find someone like this before there is nothing left for me here in this world.

  4. I worked in software QA for many years. It is not just focus and obsession, but also pattern recognition. 🐯

  5. Don´t call it autism in the title, be more exact and call it asperger´s syndrome. Most people with autism wouldn´t be able to work for you. Most people with autism wouldn´t be able to work.

  6. The part about autistics having more left brain ability is not quite correct.
    Neural atypicals like myself have more symmetrical brains than neural typicals.
    That means we process information procedurally better, and can usually find unique patterns others can't.
    Which can lead to unique solutions, and make us creative, and highly emotional, but in a different way than a NT.

  7. Stay away from vaccines except for mumps and measles and you can skip Autism altogether!!! Vaccines are CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN

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