An educational program based in Brooklyn, New York is teaching kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) how to use and create with technology so they can produce their own content and hone their technical skills to join the workforce.
Tech Kids Unlimited (TKU) provides technology education learning programs to kids and young adults (ages 8-19) who learn differently. Beth Rosenberg, who founded the non-profit in 2009, told Equal Entry, “technology can level the playing field for individuals with disability—its now up to society to embrace neurodiversity.”
With only 35% of kids with ASD getting into college and a whopping 80% of those ASD college graduates ready to enter the workforce becoming unemployed instead, autism advocates have begun pushing more and more toward neurodiversity: the idea that autism and other neural-based conditions are simply variations of the human brain, not developmental disabilities.
Melody Loveless, a teacher at TKU, told Fox that the uncertainty of acquiring a job in a workforce that’s dominated by one type of person can often be overwhelming to students with ASD who don’t fit that mold. “Life is just confusing, but technology is predictable. So that can maybe give them agency to try things they haven’t tried before,” she says, proud that TKU provides the students with a sheltered environment to take risks without worrying what their colleagues will say, without jeopardizing their rigid job in the workforce.
Tech Kids Unlimited starts preparing students early by matching them with real client projects and paying the students for the content they produce. This teaching method inspired students like Benjamin Prud’Homme, an intern at TKU, and his classmates to create an app that recently won the first prize in a mobile app competition sponsored by Spark. The app addresses ASD-related challenges by guiding students with ASD through the job application process.
Prud’Homme told Fox News that he plans to continue pursuing his passions for computer science as a freshman at Vassar College in the fall, hoping to eventually land a software development or programming job in the tech industry. Mark Zuckerberg, watch out!