Dan Burger: A Man With Vision…and a Master's Degree

Dan Burger: A Man With Vision…and a Master's Degree
By Mary Cusic, Speech-Language Pathologist MS CCC-SLP

I’ve been thinking a lot about how kiddos grow up to be adults with jobs. It feels super far away, but it will happen in the blink of an eye. Kiddos with autism become adults with careers, employment, or volunteer work. We all want kiddos to grow up and be successful and independent- however that looks for them. Kiddos with autism benefit from identifying a realistic goal. Getting practice and learning about the skills that will support achieving that goal. Dan Burger is a man with autism, and he created a software program called Filtergraph that creates interactive data visualizations. NASA uses his software, and it’s also part of the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University. His software is supporting research on autism, which is so cool. I don’t really understand how Filtergraph works, but you can check it out. It’s free.

The professor has a son with autism and knows that people with autism provide a unique perspective. Here’s a 60 Minutes clip of the interview. It was part of a larger story that 60 Minutes did on employers looking for adults with autism.
It’s such a good reminder that having unique abilities is not all that it takes for a successful career. Dan has a master’s degree in computer engineering. He used executive functioning skills to complete and do well in many classes. He added skills and knowledge to use his abilities for this project. Plus, he works as part of a team, and teamwork means using social skills. He’s a great model of someone who has natural talents and created a way to use them.

Mary can be reached at CORT@i-can.center.