Thursday, April 1, 2010

People with Autism have an edge

April is Autism Awareness Month. Parents and community activists have known it for years: people with autism have special qualities that will actually allow them to perform better at some tasks. Now one business owner and dad is taking that thought to the next level. I just think it is wonderful and amazing and I hope something like this happens in every community in America. Please don't discount or ignore people with autism if you own a business. There are many jobs were they will outperform those who are typically developing.

FROM ABC: Some people -- told by one company after another they couldn't cut it -- that they had nothing to offer -- were finally given a chance by one man who knew how valuable they could be. Now the workers-- and the company-- are proving everyone wrong.

Corridors. Keyboards. Colleagues talking computer talk. It's any thriving software company. Only here the names on the doors - these colleagues - to get hired - had to meet a certain job requirement. They had to have autism.

J.D.: How good are you at your job? Michael: Really good.
Hille McGuinness: I could only get work in a supermarket before

And Mads Zucker: Most of my colleagues are like me - we share the same experience ..."

The experience of previously being considered unemployable too disabled to keep focus
professionally too out of sync socially with say the office lunchtime crowd. Only now Mads who hadn't worked in 20 years can say with a touch of humor.

SOT: So we have in common to be weird. JD: You have in common that you're weird.Mads :Yeah. SOT: JD talks with company founder Thorkil Sonne TS: We don't all have to fit into these boxes. JD: You're talking about actually changing the box. TS: Yes.

Thorkill Sonne founded
Specilisterne in Copenhagen. It means - Specialists - and they test software - a tedious click by click process where most of us would lose focus and make mistakes. But Sonne - turning DISABILTY on its head - hired for their ABILITY - employees with high functioning autism whose brain wiring he says gives them an edge..

SOT: They have a good memory, they have very strong attention to details, They are persistent within their area of motivation and they follow instructions. And this is no charity. To survive...they have to make a profit.

JD: At bottom it's a real business -YES. You need to please your customers with a service or you are out of business. - EXACTLY.
But his primary goal with making a profit is to show the world it can be done with employees like his. And he has a good reason.

SOT: Lars is my inspiration.
Lars-his son-who has autism too and gifts like great memory. And dad hopes he won't endure wasted years as Mads did before things changed for him here.

MADS: And here I'm treated like a normal - so yes
JD And you like the job Mads: I like the job Yeah - JDAnd it's a job that needs to be done Mads: Yeah SOT:TK: - That's really what I hope and foresee see for my son as well - it can be done. JD You've really improved the odds for him.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen

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