Morley: coder dojos giving autistic teens pathway to a career


Coders Kooper de Lacy, Justin Harris and Francisco Sanzana in Morley.
Coders Kooper de Lacy, Justin Harris and Francisco Sanzana in Morley.

A GROUP of Morley teenagers on the autism spectrum could be the industry’s next software coding professionals.

Autism West has started coder dojos at its support groups in Morley, Willetton and Mosman Park, which identify young people with an aptitude for software coding.

These dojos feed into Curtin University’s Autism Academy for Software Quality Assurance, which develop their software skills further and later links them to employers.

Morley robotics facilitator Kooper de Lacy said Autism West realised a lot of the autistic kids were really into computer programming, so they started a coder dojo.

“A few of the guys are looking at going into a career in coding,” he said.

“They’re a great bunch of kids, they’re really good fun.”

Kooper said they used programs including Blender and Unity to program and code games.

Autism West education officer Louise Sheehy said there were more children on the spectrum than those with cerebral palsy, diabetes, deafness blindness and leukaemia combined, yet fewer have employment than those with a disability.

“A lot of our kids don’t test very well academically because of anxiety or social and sensory issues but they have extraordinary skills,” she said.

“The academy recognises that employment shouldn’t all be based on academic achievement and it builds on the strengths of these young people.”

Curtin University also worked with employers, educating them about how to understand, prepare and care for employees on the spectrum.