Germany-based software company SAP is receiving praise from autism advocates for its plan to expand a program that hires adults on the autism spectrum. SAP has partnered with specialized staffing firm Specialisterne to hire autistic adults for a variety of positions including software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists.

Originally, the two companies worked together on a pilot project in India. The pilot launched with the hiring of six individuals with autism; these six individuals worked as software testers for SAP Business Suite applications.  

The second phase of the pilot is currently underway in Ireland. SAP and Specialisterne are in the screening phase for five open positions in that country. The next phase of the project will expand to the United States, Canada and Germany later this year.

"There's a significant need to provide better services and more support for children with autism transitioning into adulthood," said Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks. "We're thrilled that a major global company such as SAP has made this kind of announcement, which sounds like firm commitment to really address a major need in the autism community."  Source: ABC News

As the mother of two children on the autism spectrum, I can attest to the fact that there needs to be better transition services in place. Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism, regardless of how many hours of therapy the child receives. Sure, the autism symptoms may be negligible for some, but some autistic traits will never go away.

My oldest is 11 and although I have several years before I have to worry about college, employment and independent living, it is a topic that is always on my mind. If the SAP and Specialisterne partnership continues to be successful, we may see programs like this crop up at many more companies and this mom of two on the spectrum will be thankful. 

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