Microsoft’s New Employee Program

MicrosoftMicrosoft recently announced it is starting a pilot program – working alongside specialized employment agency, Specialisterne – that is focused on hiring people with autism. The company hopes to utilize and nurture the unique skills that some on the autism spectrum possess that are particularly aligned with positions at Microsoft.

Mary Ellen Smith, corporate VP of worldwide operations who has a teen son on the spectrum, said, “People with autism bring strengths that we need at Microsoft, 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.”

Microsoft is not alone—other companies are also recognizing specialized talents and creating opportunities for people with autism, such as SAP and Freddie Mac. These efforts are extremely important considering only a very small percentage of those on the spectrum are employed – leaving the vast majority unemployed. And the unemployment rate will continue to rise as autism rates increase.

So Microsoft is taking a step in the right direction, and we hope more companies will follow suit.

Read more of Ms. Smith’s post on Microsoft’s blog.

Lynsey, Community Manager


Spectrum Singles

Spectrum Singles 2A mother-daughter duo has created something new for the dating world – an online site for singles with autism. Olivia Cantu and her mom, Kristen Fitzpatrick, are both on the spectrum and felt that there was a need for a site where people could meet for potential dating and friendship opportunities – so they came up with

As reported in People Magazine, the site uses a large questionnaire, called the Spectrum Compatibility Test (SCT), to match users. Topics such as social comfort, attention tendencies and other areas are covered, and then users are grouped based on their preferences.

It’s still a fairly new site, but it’s already getting lots of great buzz and feedback. Check their site or visit them on Facebook.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Taking On the Boston Marathon

This is definitely one of those ‘watch what you can do when you put your mind to it!’…Jason “J-Mac” McElwain took on last week’s Boston Marathon, running it in less than three hours. It was the very first time that Jason, who has autism, ran the Boston Marathon, and was only his third marathon ever. And to make it even more incredible, he trained for the marathon in one of the worst/coldest winters ever (as anyone living on the upper east coast can attest!) while also juggling his multiple jobs.

And Jason is no stranger to amazing feats. If his name looks familiar to you, you may have heard about him because he made national news a few years back when he scored 20 points in just over four minutes while playing in his only varsity basketball game at his high school (he was the team’s manager before being put in the game). Check out the video below from that game:

There seems to be no stopping Jason – we can’t wait to hear what he does next! Congrats, Jason!

Lynsey, Community Manager


Games & Toys

Parade recently put out an article identifying top six toy picks for children with autism. They asked two experts to provide their thoughts on toys that can help autistic children learn and development much-needed skills, such as play and social interaction. Here’s what their list looked like:

Caves & Claws

  1. Board Games – The experts note that simple games can help teach skills like following directions, and they also involve social interaction. They recommend games where players work together as a team, such as Caves & Claws and Sleeping Grump.
  2. Sports Equipment – For younger kids, these experts suggested a simple ball could do the trick because it creates an opportunity for social play, communication and eye contact. For older kids, they suggest a skateboard, which can be a tool for social activity since kids get together at skate parks and skate in groups.
  3. Musical Instruments – For smaller children, a musical toy like a whistle could be used in an imitation game- you play a tune and have your child repeat it. For older children, playing an instrument could be a good for peer interaction, as the experts note.
  4. Construction Sets – The experts say toys like Legos are good to help children learn to follow directions in order to build objects.
  5. Tool Kits – They say that even a general toolbox with a hammer and nails can help build fine motor skills and a sense of accomplishment.
  6. Books – Books have many benefits, one of them, as noted by the experts, is a chance to teach socially appropriate behavior for younger children. Some of the books they call out are Me First and Roses Are Pink, Your Feet Really Stink.

Check out the full article here.

Would love your input as well – any toys or games you’ve found to be particularly helpful? Share them with us.

Lynsey, Community Manager

Wise Words by Pat Philpot

This was written by Pat Philpot on his Facebook page…nuff said!

Keyper had yet another stellar day at school. I love what his teacher did today. Combined Keyper’s love of the iPad, with a few pictures of the other kids in the class and something that each kid likes. For example one of the boys likes cars. So she wrote the boys name on the paper and that he likes cars. So each kid had their name and what they like on a separate sheet of paper. Then, she would scroll through the pictures and have Keyper select the correct identity. What a simple, yet brilliant way to help Keyper not only learn names, but something about each person…..

“Rockstar” ( teachers nick name) was surprised that he learned them all in one day. I was not surprised.

I also love listening to the teacher/instructors talk about how amazed they are at K as they are learning more about him. Laura & I just smile because we know how brilliant he is.

Also, and for me this was the best part of his day……when they returned from recess, Keyper announced as he came in the door, ” I made a friend”!

His name is Ahmen, ( not sure of spelling) and he likes to ski.

On the drive home, he asked if Ahmen could come over and play sometime?


Seriously peeps, I need to take a short break and celebrate, dance, sing my song. I am sending out to the Universe my appreciation & Gratitude for these amazing triumphs & experiences. Be back in a few.

Wow, better. I was getting a little misty eyed there.

I used to think that I would give just about anything to wake up and find that miraculously, in the night, a miracle happened & my beautiful autistically inclined boy had recovered. Then one day I realized being “on the spectrum”, or having Autism is an important part of who Keyper is. I don’t want it to define him, but it is indeed part of his beautiful makeup & components.

Just like his infectious smile, his brown hair, his amazing vocabulary and ability to read faster than anyone i know, I would not want to change any part of who he is.

As I came into this awareness and let go of the resistance that at some level he needed to be different, or recovered, or normal, or better, or more flexible so we could do things as “other” families do etc, he began to let go too of his resistance.

The more at ease I become, the more I celebrate who he is, the more dancing I do, the more singing I do, the more I let go of old beliefs, the more I seek for the good & the happy, the bigger I make the itty bitty little things that are so easy to take for granted, the better and better life becomes. And the better and the better life becomes the more of what I want starts showing up. It is the Law of Attraction in action… ( I use the terms of dancing and singing metaphorically, I mean, I do dance and sing and boy do I celebrate, but it is about just different ways of showing joy, there are a million ways to show joy and appreciation ) The more I am in the moment, that is when life begins to flow. And it is flowing down stream right now like never before.

For me, Autism is an opportunity set before me to be an expression of unconditional love at its best. It is a beautiful opportunity for personal growth and awareness. It is an opportunity to experience something I never would have willingly chosen, yet I can easily say, Autism has been the road less taken and it has made all the difference.

It is with the greatest gratitude, appreciation and love, that I Thank YOU Mr ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) for this amazing experience.