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Microsoft Launches Pilot Program to Hire Workers With Autism

The company pitched its latest effort to boost the diversity of its workforce as well as to provide opportunities to an untapped talent pool.

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The technology industry has already been doing pioneering work to help educate children with autism.

Now Microsoft wants to see if it can also help on the job front: The company is launching a pilot program to hire people with autism.

The effort was announced in a blog post by Mary Ellen Smith, a corporate VP who has a 19-year-old autistic son.

“People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft,” Smith said. “Each individual is different, some have amazing ability to retain information, think at a level of detail and depth or excel in math or code. It’s a talent pool that we want to continue to bring to Microsoft.”

In 2014, Microsoft added coverage to its self-funded insurance plan to cover a pricey but promising therapy for autistic children. That move was followed by a number of other tech companies, including Intel, Qualcomm, Apple, Cisco Systems and Oracle.

The tech industry has been working to bring awareness around autism and also to develop products that help. The iPad and other tablets combined with specialized software have been a particular boon.

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