Friday, December 11, 2009

Autistic Testers?

I recently saw an article about a company in Chicago training people with autism to be testers. There are some real doozies in there, like this:
Aspiritech — whose board includes Brix, now retired from Wrigley, and the actor Ed Asner, whose son Charles is autistic — claims those who are autistic have a talent for spotting imperfections, and thrive on predictable, monotonous work.
"The stuff we do is boring for [others], like going through a program looking at every detail, testing the same function over and over again in different situations, but it doesn't disturb those of us with autism," says Thomas Jacobsen, an autistic employee at Specialisterne. "That's our strength."

Now I don't want to knock anyone who is autistic, or anyone who isn't. But oh boy was this an article full of depressing assumptions, mostly that testing is repetitive and monotonous. (Sure, parts of it are, just like parts of any job are sort of repetitive and monotonous.) In the end, though, I mostly walked away surprised that a media outlet would publish something like this, seemingly designed to insult both autistic people and testers.

The easy answer is to laugh at how misguided this company is. The better answer is to figure out that we have to show the difficult, innovative side of testing. And that some great testers may be autistic, while others may not be. I say, look for someone who is a good tester, and figure it out from there.

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