Managing Editor's Note: As my own daughters enter their junior and senior years of high school, their future, and how to fill a lifetime, looms. Specialisterne is a Danish company now operating in the USA to employ individuals on the Spectrum in IT positions. My oldest daughter likes to shred at school - it's one of her jobs. There is shredding at the job site below. My middle daughter is pretty good at searching and finding Sesame Street and Taylor Lautner on YouTube - I'll bet we could craft a job for her that respects her abilities and unique work style. What do you want for your child with autism - or if you are an adult on the spectrum - what do you want for your own fulfillment? K
Delaware organization matches people with autism and tech jobs
By Maiken Scott
One year after coming to Delaware, an international program that aims to find tech jobs for individuals with autism is seeing its first successes.
The program is called "Specialisterne," which means "The Specialists," and comes to Delaware from Denmark. The goal is to hone in on the special skills and talents of people on the autism spectrum -- and use them in the tech and data industry.
A few small robots are zipping around the open office space of CAI in Newark. A group of young men sends the robots on different missions -- tracing letters, riding up toward walls and stopping. CAI, an IT company, is the corporate partner for Specialisterne, and the young robot-builders are trainees working toward employment in the tech and data industry. They all have autism, and the goal of the training is to match their interests and special skill sets with jobs.
The Specialisterne logo is a dandelion -- a flower the program's founder, Thorkil Sonne, says children love and love to play with. But adults see the dandelion differently.
"When you buy a house with a garden and you see this wonderful flower again, what do you see?" said Sonne. "You see a weed, probably, because now your norms are different, the plant is the same, but is it a weed or is it an herb?"
Sonne's youngest son, Lars, has autism, and Sonne chose the dandelion as the logo because he wants society and employers to look at people with autism as an asset -- to see ability, rather than disability.
"There are a lot of skill sets, but they are unused, because they are limited by some barriers in mostly social expectations," he said.
Skill set meshes well with IT needs
The Specialisterne Foundation came to Delaware at the invitation of Gov. Jack Markell and then teamed up with CAI. Sonne says the trainees might struggle with social skills, but very often they have good memory, ability to see patterns and pride in what they do. Read the full article at WHYY's Newsworks.