More than 5 million Americans are living somewhere on the autistic spectrum; in the next 10 years, 500 thousand will graduate from school and look for a job. Unfortunately, most of them – about 80 percent – will wind up unemployed or in low-skilled, dead-end jobs that fail to tap into their abilities. This is both a tragedy for those who know such people — which is a lot of us — and a broader structural failure to realize the social and economic good that these often highly talented people might contribute if given a fair chance.
David Friedman’s company, AutonomyWorks, is doing something important about the problem. The company recruits workers living on the autistic spectrum, places them in a favorable environment, trains them, and assigns them jobs and roles far more aligned with their often highly impressive mental skills than the menial jobs they’re routinely assigned to.
These jobs often involve complex, repetitive, or detail-focused work such as proofreading of copy, code, or other content. On AutonomyWorks’ website, these jobs are classified into four main buckets: Digital Marketing Operations, Transaction Processing, Quality Assurance, and Data Management.
I was lucky to catch up with David for a conversation about AutonomyWorks, including its origin story, which is a highly personal one, how the organization goes about training recruits and practicing QA in its operations, success stories for individuals recruited by AutonomyWorks, future expansion plans for the company, and how working with Autonomy works has provided real value for AutonomyWorks’ many clients, which have included Centro, Razorfish, MediaCom, Reddit, and many others.