Testimonial Bpost Photo: logo of Bpost In early 2009, ICT Bpost was approached by Passwerk, asking if the testers they were seeking were also allowed to be people with autism (or people with Autism Spectrum Disorder = ASD, to be more accurate). Bpost got on board, which subsequently saw Sam and one of his colleagues, who were both working at Passwerk, join the test team of PostStation (Bpost’s counter application) on 16 February 2009. Sam’s colleague soon reported that the job content failed to meet with her wishes. To her replacement, the office landscape proved to be a major obstacle to overcome. But Sam adapted to the situation in hand as best he could and has now been a member of our test team for over a year. Generally speaking, people with ASD do not mind doing repetitive work. And when you ultimately manage to build a good rapport with them, you get an awful lot in return. However, it also takes a very considerable amount of time to get through to people with ASD. You usually sense that something is wrong, but it takes a lot of time to find out just exactly what it is, and how you can help. In Sam’s case, he has a huge amount of drive when it comes to performing the tests, he has no problem whatsoever in repeating the regression tests over and over again, ad nauseam if need be, and he has a very keen eye for detail (he spots every change, no matter how minute). By the same token, he constantly challenges and notices everything. And I mean everything. He will go through every single test script down to the smallest detail, and challenge every minute change or deviation from the test script. The office landscape we work in and the background noise/din that comes with it is not particularly conducive to Sam: a squeaking door, the many different ring tones, someone clicking their biro, the many discussions among colleagues, … Sam catches everything and stores it in his ‘system, which can sometimes be an added stress factor for him. We try and mitigate matters by using ear plugs, allowing for short breaks, etc. But it is not always a straight forward matter to find a clear and structured framework in an existing, and sometimes hectic, (test) organisation. It is a constant effort to strike the right balance between changes, the pressures of time, budgetary restraints, fellow testers and Sam’s extra needs. Together with Sam’s job coach, I try and establish the best way for us to approach matters. They call round on a regular basis to see how Sam is getting on, which is much needed, especially at the outset. Prior to the project we now have in place with Passwerk, I had never been in contact with people with ASD. I was provided with a mind map which gave me a fairly good idea of Sam’s personality, even though I should add that I am only just now starting to understand him a little better through my personal contacts with Sam. I imagine I will never ‘really’ know Sam fully. Especially as he is so adept at hiding/concealing things at work that it is not always clear if something is happening because he feels that is the way it should be happening on the shop floor (instructions from the boss should simply be executed, like it or not), or whether he also wants it done like that. My current impression of working with Passwerk and people with ASD is a positive one, even though I do feel that close coaching over at the employer’s premises is absolutely vital to see this kind of project brought to fruition. Without coaching, weekly follow-up meetings, a ready ear, etc. this type of project would not be feasible in our structure. But by working at and by striking an equitable balance, we have managed to hang on to Sam as a valued member of our test team for over a year now. And as far as myself and his colleagues are concerned, we would be glad to see him stick around for a bit longer. Ingrid van Eycken, Test Lead RSS, ICT Application Services