Help from Gaming Community for Autistic Child
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Join Date: Dec 2007
03-14-2010, 11:53 AM
As someone who has held the position of a programming manager/director at several companies, if you are asking if he is a fit for a programming team ... the answer is "maybe".
Programming Managers are always looking for that person who is just shear "brilliant", but they tend to prefer people who can think outside the box to get the job done as soon as they possibly can (even if that means cutting corners at times).
I have known two autistic people in my life, and both of those people were able to function because of regiment ... and they didn't deal well at all when it was needed they step out of that regiment. Maybe your friend's child can, I dunno.
Most (not all) the programming shops I've worked in were extremely fast and loose. People were expected to know their job and do it. We joke in the industry about locking them them in a room and throwing some meat in once in a while until they come out with a finished product. Seldom would I hold a programmer's hand and walk him through what he needed to do ... rather, we would sit down make sure the goal was understood the questions were answered, and a date for completion was determined. With the exception of a couple of "how's it going" checks by myself ... I would have very little involvement the programmer until it was time for him to deliver the finished product on the agreed date.
And finally, most (not all) programming shops I've worked in are very unstructured. These are typically very creative individuals with mathematical backgrounds/tendencies ... there is typically not a dress code, hours are flexible, and what they are allowed to do with their cubicles/offices is very often viewed as undisciplined non-sense by the conventional corporate world. Again, this doesn't play well with an Autistic person's need for regiment.
Now you move over to the corporate world (the Fortune 500 type companies) ... these programming environments are very structured and very regimented ... unfortunately, the programmers who choose to venture down this path are typically very career driven, and thus centered on themselves. They have very little tolerance for the "unusual" and are not going to tend to tolerate the need to accommodate the "unusual".
If your friend's child is socially functional, he would be better served to find himself a programmers guild (of sorts) where he can take on jobs as an independent contractor and work them from beginning to end. In this environment, companies put out a specification and ask for a bid ... all they care about is the final product that comes out the other end. The down-side of this is, there's a bazillion 14 year olds, Korean's, Indians, and Chinese bidding on these types of projects ... and its difficult to compete with them and actually make a living off it.
It very well could be there's companies or educational institutions that have the structure and understanding in place to actually benefit from the talents this child would bring to the table, while dealing with the eccentricities that accompany those talents. You might check with the many Autistic Foundations that are out there ... if these places do exist, they would know.
That's just my off-the-top-of-my-head thinking. I wish you, and the child, luck.