By Sabina Durral
As a delivery manager at auticon, I’ve seen firsthand the strengths that autistic professionals bring to quality assurance and testing. I’ve had many experiences in the IT and software testing field, but I’ve especially enjoyed my role with auticon because of the company’s mission, and because I feel I’m contributing to helping autistic professionals achieve their goals by giving them the support they need in their work. This post will highlight five key strengths of autism in QA testing—along with the crucial importance of providing an inclusive environment and the necessary supports for each employee.
Focus and Attention to Detail
This is a big advantage—most autistic QA professionals have laser-like focus and great attention to detail. QA testing is a job that requires a lot of attention to detail, because we are trying to find as many defects in the software as possible. Since autistic QA testers are so focused on details, they catch the bugs that any regular person would not. They also tend to have a great talent for spotting irregularities.
Autistic QA testers are able to be very productive. This is a benefit that comes from their focus and attention to detail. They’re so focused that they don’t tend to miss anything, which increases efficiency and productivity. They also don’t like multi-tasking and instead prefer to stay focused on a particular task, which increases productivity and prevents distraction.
Pattern recognition is a skill that is associated with autism in general but is especially beneficial in QA testing. My autistic colleagues work very efficiently when they identify a pattern, which enables them to complete a repetitive task more easily and excel in it. In comparison, a non-autistic person in the same role and situation may be more likely to get bored or lose focus.
The autistic QA testers on my team bring a very creative approach to any task that’s given to them. They have a great ability to look at things from a different angle, which is a key skill for QA testing. After they review the product and requirements, they will bring back other issues and give the product managers a chance to change and improve their product. They go beyond what’s in the test cases or specification document and say, “What should I do if I see this different scenario?” That’s where’s their creative approaches come into play—thinking outside the box.
Excelling Behind the Scenes
Excelling Behind the Scenes
For some of my autistic colleagues, social anxiety makes it difficult for them to interact directly with our clients, but they do very well behind the scenes with clear instructions. Fortunately, certain IT positions like QA testing are specialized to perform behind-the-scenes tasks, and a delivery manager like me can take on the role of interacting with the client. It’s important to match people with jobs where they feel comfortable. If they are satisfied and comfortable, they will perform better and be more productive.
It’s also important to remember that hiring autistic professionals is not simply a means to an end, like increased performance or productivity. It’s a two-way street: in order for companies to benefit from the incredible strengths of autistic QA testers, they must create an inclusive work environment and provide the needed accommodations and supports for each person. I know that my autistic colleagues have previously faced barriers in traditional work environments, and that the accommodations and support they receive at auticon are what enables them to use their full strengths and perform at the level described above.
When companies commit to giving each employee what works for them to feel comfortable and do their best work, then they can experience the unique benefits of working with autistic professionals.