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Specialist People: looking to find 1 million jobs for autistics

Posted Apr 01 2010 2:03pm

ABC News has a story that caught my eye: Software Company Only Hires People who Have Autism . The company, Specialisterne, is a Danish company that is looking to capitalize on the strengths of autistics in the workplace.

On the name of the company:

The company name ‘SPECIALISTERNE’ is a danish word for ‘The Specialists’ and alludes to that we are the opposite of ‘Generalists’. Our strength is in the details where our employees have a special skill for immersing themselves in their work.

We use the company name internationally though the term ‘specialister’ is phrased differently in different languages.

In the graphics of the company name the I’s are highlighted with the colour of the Dandelion flower.

and the idea behind the company:

Thorkil Sonne’s son was given the diagnosis “infantile autism with normal intelligence” at age 3. This gave Thorkil the chance to get to know a fascinating and vulnerable handicap world.

Thorkil has been behind many of the initiatives in the area of autism and was president of the local chapter of Autism Denmark in the West Zealand County for three years.

Thorkil got to know many adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) – and he wondered why these intelligent young people couldn’t use their energy and skills in the business community, doing what they do best and yearn to do.

Thorkil concluded that out welfare system works best if you have a visible handicap – but lacks much in experience and knowledge when it comes to handling invisible handicaps like ASD.

There was obviously a shortage of job opportunities where people with ASD can meet understanding and support and through that get the opportunity to use their special skills. Thorkil didn’t see enough opportunities within the existing system.

After 15 years in the world of tele-communications Thorkil knew the value of the skills he saw in young people with ASD.
Thanks to the support of his family Thorkil was able to start SPECIALISTERNE based on a loan on their house and his family’s belief in his vision.

If I can get the embed code for the video on the ABC News site, I’ll post it here.

Specialisterne has expanded to the UK, with a website and a plan to create 60 jobs in Glasgow. This was discussed on the BBC website last year. A video is on the Specialst People website .

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