People with autism find outlet through I.T. work program

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) -- An innovative Appleton business is working to pair people on the autism spectrum with their love of I.T. work.

It’s called Make I.T. Soar, and is a sect of Soar Fox Cities. The nearly year-old program works to bring a new wave of opportunity to the Fox Valley.

“What we thought is, we can give these individuals an opportunity to do something that they’re passionate about,” says program director Dan Brosman.

Brosman says the program works to bring people with high-functioning autism together for I.T. work – a chance they might not otherwise have.

“The reason they’re able to work with us, and be so good at it, is because we give them the opportunity and the chance they might not get with other corporations or companies, where they lack the social skills to be able to work inside that kind of environment,” Brosman says.

In its start-up year, the company has already won the Innovation Award for Small Business of the Year from the Fox Cities Chambers of Commerce.

Meanwhile, workers continue learning about the I.T. field, while making real-world connections.

“I’m learning a lot more than I actually wanted to learn in the last six months,” says Aaron Ebert, an intellectual technician at Make I.T. Soar. “It's been an enjoyment. It's been a really big enjoyment.”

While expanding their knowledge for I.T. work, employees provide those services for local companies, something they say works to break stereotypes.

“Changing the stigma and helping to kind of break the stigma of autism and Asperger’s,” says Kaitlyn Rucks, an intellectual technician at Make I.T. Soar. “Whereas other people might think, ‘oh, that person has a disability,’ and there’s a lot of negativity stored around something like that.”

Make I.T. Soar focuses on ethical hacking, finding the vulnerability within websites, to then help strengthen their firewalls. The company also works on website creation, logo design and site mapping.