Meagan Michal, April 23, 2019 | 2 min read

Let’s talk about Autism & Tech Talent…

From our experience, students with autism are more than able to become incredible developers by taking on our curriculum, but the extra social demands of a typical classroom atmosphere could create barriers to their success. That is why we have partnered with Advocations to provide a way for people on the spectrum to shine in our classroom and their future career!

In Tech Talent South’s pursuit to make tech education available to all people, we’ve developed many creative partnerships to reach groups that are underrepresented on technical teams. With that being said, this partnership might be the most exciting and innovative program solutions we have come up with yet!
In Charlotte, we are implementing this project pilot with Autism Speaks and GameStop as grant recipients. We are also piloting this program in Raleigh with a Raleigh4U Impact Grant from the City of Raleigh’s Economic Development Department. Together with Advocations, we will offer students with autism who desire social support in our regularly scheduled classes and train a “Peer Navigator” to be attentive to their classmate in social settings such as company tours, networking events, and classroom group work. Advocations will help us train these classmates who volunteer as Peer Navigators. Peer Navigators will be taught to recognize the type of support their classmate might need, and when to offer such assistance.
Why not create a special class just for students with autism? We want to equip all students with the skills they need to land the tech job of their dreams, and this is no different for our students with autism. Our program is designed for students with autism who want to work in a competitive and integrated setting, so we’ve intentionally designed our classes to help build the skills and confidence you need to get there. Lastly, we’ve learned from our friends at Advocations that separate is never truly equal and neurodiverse classes will create an environment where we can all grow and learn from each other.
Breaking down barriers to tech education is one of our favorite pursuits here at Tech Talent South. We are excited about the opportunity to run this program, and all that we will learn from this pilot. We want to say a special thank you to Advocations for getting this ball rolling, and to the partners we have in Raleigh and Charlotte who see value in this pursuit as well!
Do you know someone who would be interested in taking our class with a peer navigator? Send them this link!