October 7, 2016 11:36 pm
Updated: October 7, 2016 11:38 pm

Vancouver IT company champions hiring people with autism

The founder of a Vancouver IT company has tapped into an unknown source of high-quality consultants, all performing at the top of their game, all with autism. Catherine Urquhart explains.

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A Vancouver woman has become a champion for people on the autism spectrum.

IT specialist Carol Simpson, who has two sons on the spectrum, now employs 10 people with autism. All of them are highly skilled software testers, data technicians and analysts.

“I find it immensely rewarding, and some of the stories and experiences as a result…I just sit back and think this has been a dream come true,” said Simpson.

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Employees of Simpson’s company Focus are in high demand. They’re contracted out for their extraordinary IT abilities, but for many of them, finding jobs has been difficult in the past.

Bailey Ratcliffe said that job ads often eliminated him based on his abilities, pointing out: “When you look online for job openings they always say great leadership skills, amazing talker, cooperative worker and I don’t have the social skills.”

Working for Focus has changed Joey Godin’s life.

“Life right now is much better knowing I have a job I’m good at. I have a lot of security in that, knowing that I’m not going to lose this because I said something to the wrong person,” said Godin.

Aria Raissi Fard echoes the sentiments of his colleagues, saying “I did all sorts of these things and spent a lot of time looking for work too. Now I’ve been at my position as a data quality technician at Vancity for the last year.”

Vancity has hired a number of Simpson’s employees. The experience of employing people on the spectrum is a good one, says Senior VP of Operations Ellen Pekeles.

“Everybody starts to learn more about what autism is, what neuro-developmental disorders are and understanding what the abilities are of those employees rather than their disabilities.”

For Simpson and her employees, the jobs are making a big difference in the lives of people on the spectrum.

“I don’t know if it’s something I could do without Carol’s assistance in finding this opportunity because it’s very hard for people on the spectrum to find jobs like this,” added Ratcliffe.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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