THE YMCA is embarking on a study to help people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) find employment in the information technology sector.

For a start, it wants to reach out to 200 people with ASD aged 16 and older using an online survey to gather data about their employment needs and interest in IT and IT-related jobs.

ASD describes a range of conditions that include Asperger's syndrome. People diagnosed with ASD are typically socially awkward and have difficulty communicating with others.

The survey results will be part of a fuller study inspired by Specialisterne Danmark, a Danish employment model that means "The Specialists", said Mr Bryan Tan, chairman of the YMCA Specialisterne Taskforce.

The model is a five-month training and assessment programme that helps to identify the skills and competence of people with ASD in the hopes of securing them jobs.

Mr Tan said: "This model requires much upfront investment to accelerate the entry of persons with ASD into the workplace. It is a challenging process which we want to attempt."

He added that autistic people are detail and process oriented, and that these are traits crucial in IT-related fields. The study will be funded by the National Council of Social Service.

There are currently no reliable figures on the number of people in Singapore who suffer from ASD, or the employment rate of this group of people, YMCA said.

But there are other initiatives that help people with ASD find work. These include the Enabling Employers Network, the Open Door Fund and the Employability and Employment Centre.

The Autism Resource Centre, headed by Member of Parliament Denise Phua, has been providing advice and support to YMCA on current local issues pertaining to ASD. Their consultants have given input for the survey, and Pathlight School, which is affiliated to the centre, has disseminated the survey to their senior students.

The online survey will take about 10 minutes to complete and participation will be anonymous.

To prevent non-qualified or non-ASD people from participating in the survey, interested parties have to contact Ms Alissa Rode at 6586-2205 or for details.

The survey will run till the end of next month.