Writing, Ms. Reis explained, is how she communicates best. “For a lot of organizations, that was perceived as something that would be a drawback,” she said in an email, “rather than a way for me to participate more fully.”
Ultranauts does not use work experience to filter job candidates. The company does conduct structured interviews, but hiring is largely based on skills assessments that it has developed to measure traits like the ability to work through new problems and take guidance and apply it. Work simulations are another test.
Tulco, an investment firm in Pittsburgh, hired Ultranauts this year to do data-quality work. Tulco invests in traditional businesses that it thinks can become more efficient and profitable by applying data science and artificial intelligence, but creating those A.I. algorithms requires sifting through troves of messy data.
Ultranauts’ work has impressed Matthew Marolda, executive vice president for data science at Tulco. On one project, its team cleaned up and loaded a vast amount of information into an A.I. model with remarkable speed, days instead of weeks, he said.
“This is a work force with inherent strengths,” Mr. Marolda said. “They’re really good at pattern recognition and really good at detail work.”
Seeking new pools of skilled workers, and prodded by advocacy groups, several companies in recent years have begun programs to recruit and employ autistic workers, including SAP, Microsoft, Ernst & Young and JPMorgan Chase.
Ultranauts is one of a handful of small companies and nonprofits in Europe and the United States that employ mainly autistic workers for jobs in technology. Others include Specialisterne, Auticon, Daivergent and Aspiritech. Ultranauts stands out, experts say, for working entirely remotely from the outset and for developing its carefully crafted combination of digital tools and workplace practices.