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Understanding autism
Understanding autism

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5.1 Skills

Often the same autistic characteristic which can make life difficult in some situations – for instance, the tendency for attention to detail – has positive sides in others. An autistic person trying to describe the main features of a picture or diagram, or to summarise the general storyline of a film, may go into all the details, and thus be unable to give a concise overview. This can be problematic, especially in education, where the skill of summarising key points is important. However, noticing details can also be a valuable skill. For instance, a recent report describes how autistic employees are helping banks to detect fraud and money-laundering, with their ability to detect subtly unusual patterns in large data sets (Hickey, 2015).

Another example is the need for structure, routine and repetition. Difficulty adapting to change may go with the capacity to persist in tasks for which others would not have sufficient patience or attention span. Again, this is proving invaluable in some industrial jobs.

The same social naivety which, as we saw earlier, may lead a person into awkward social situations, means that autistic people tend to speak their mind with great honesty. In a world where some people resort to dishonesty and deception to get what they want, such honesty can and should be highly valued. An employer, for instance, may place particular trust in autistic staff members.