With its increasing prevalence in the United States and throughout the world, autism has become a very hot topic in the medical community as well as the mainstream news media. Individuals with autism often have trouble relating to others and have difficulty steering themselves through the intricacies of the social world. Unfortunately, these difficulties cause many autistic individuals to be dependent on their parents throughout adulthood. The crippling social consequences that effect many individuals with autism, as well as misconceptions of the cognitive effects of the disorder, make finding and keeping jobs and a role in society difficult for many autistic adults.
Thorkill Sonne, founder of Specialisterne, is working to change the way the world sees people with autism. His autistic son, who has remarkable cognitive capabilities such as extremely intense focus and careful execution of tasks, inspired Sonne to go out on his own and create Specialisterne, “an innovative social enterprise providing assessment, training, education, and IT consultancy services”, where most of the employees are individuals with autism.
His business plan is truly unique. A former technical director at one of Denmark’s largest telecommunication companies, Sonne is aware that many companies have difficulty finding workers who can do specific, often tedious tasks, such as data entry and software testing. These jobs require skills at which certain autistic individuals excel. Sonne’s theory is that given the right working environment, autistic adults can be the best people for certain jobs. For nearly 10 years, Specialisterne has employed high-functioning autistic adults who are then hired out as consultants to many different companies around the world.
Sonne has opened many business owners’ eyes to the possibility and advantages of hiring autistic workers who can perform valuable tasks. Specialisterne and companies that have followed in its footsteps are helping to change “neurotypicals’” perception of autistic individuals, one of Sonne’s primary goals. Traits previously thought of as weaknesses such as bluntness and obsessiveness, have been turned into marketable strengths when put into the context of jobs that require directness and attention to detail.
In the past few years, researchers from all over the world have shown that intelligence test results for autistic subjects vary greatly depending on what test is used and that the autistic mind is better at picking up on specific details, distinguishing among sounds and rotating 3D structures mentally. These findings are fortunately beginning to recifiy the misconception that autistic individuals have intelligence deficits. Because of rising numbers of individuals being diagnosed with autism, and the associated social interest and research, there is an emerging understanding of autistic individuals that will hopefully change attitudes towards individuals with autism.
Learn more about Specialisterne and Sonne’s unique business philosophy at: http://www.specialisterne.com/