Feature

Volume 2 Issue 23 - December 01, 2004

Specialisterne: From unique skills to unique results

Specialisterne ("the Specialists") makes use of the characteristics of autism in a positive way by solving important IT tasks for the corporate sector on normal job market terms.

Picture of the company's logo -- a dandelion.

Specialisterne has introduced a ‘transcending concept’, an idea which bridges the abilities of people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and a large need in the corporate sector to have tasks solved which require exactly these abilities.

We offer to solve test and documentation tasks for the corporate sector”, explains Thorkil Sonne, Founder and Managing Director, “where the employees can use the special gifts of autism: extraordinary sense of detail, good memory, persistence, precision and regularity.”

The goal of the company is that after three years of employment at Specialisterne, employees are expected to have acquired a job in other companies. This is especially necessary because the corporate sector must experience a supply of new valuable specialist competences. After three years, feels Sonne, the coporate sector will acknowledge Specialisterne’s employees as valuable workers. The ultimate aim is to be regarded as Denmark’s best supplier of specialist competences within niche areas.

The company’s logo symbolises its philosophy. It shows a seed from the plant ‘Taraxacum officinale’, also known as Dandelion. It is considered an annoying plant, often difficult to uproot because of its long tap root. However, there are always two sides to any view, and what value you attribute to it depends on your point of view. So, too, is the case with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The traditional point of view on autism is that it is a resource-heavy field of problems that people don’t know how to handle. Often, early retirement pensions are granted to adolescents with autism because their working skills are considered insignificant and without chance of development.

Specialisterne's point of view, however, is very different. The company feels that autism is a hitherto neglected resource of specialist competences which the corporate sector needs, and which can be activated by people who will gain recognition as equal participants in society.

For instance, since the beginning of February 2004, six young men diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome have been working with test and documentation tasks.

Their work includes testing cell phone services, creating flowcharts and other kinds of documentation for new and existing cell phone services. They work with many different cell phones, including state-of-the-art terminals. They also work with websites and the many other possibilities of the Internet.

Normally they work in the Specialisterne offices, solving tasks for the corporate sector, but sometimes they may have to travel to the customer’s office and do the test jobs on their premises.

Specialisterne takes great care to see that the training and working environment of people with autism is as close to possible to the real environment. However, the workplace is set up specifically for people with autistic disorders, to make it possible to accommodate individual needs.

When new employees join the company, typically they start with a five-month labour market trial period during which they experience different kinds of tasks, technologies and how to keep appointments. They get used to the firm as their work place with management, colleagues and customers.

During the course, Specialisterne draws up a resource profile, and gives the candidates meaningful training in the fields of work. This helps them towards employment after the trial period.

If the candidate, Specialisterne and the municipal caseworker all agree on a following employment, the candidate can be employed on the following terms:

  • Company rehabilitation: if the parties decide the candidate needs more time to reach a decision, company rehabilitation is an option.
  • Part time job: if the labour market trial period has been concluded with the expected results, part time job is an option. Wages will be according to current agreements in the industry.
  • Light job/wage contribution job: if the candidate is on a social pension, light job/wage contribution job is an option. The social pension can be put on hold if a part time job is offered instead.
  • Normal terms: if it turns out the candidate has normal working skills, employment on normal labour market terms is an option.

Specialisterne thus offers people with an ASD diagnosis an opportunity to test their IT work skills as well as their personal and social skills in an office environment which operates on the market conditions of the corporate sector.

For details, visit www.specialisterne.dk

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