10 years ago Thorkil Sonne’s son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. After active participation in the Danish Autism Association, Thorkil had the painful realization that many people with autism do not have the opportunities to have careers, even if they are cognitively able to do so. The solution to this issue, for him, was the establishment of Specialisterne, or The Specialists. The Specialists goal is to tailor a working environment for people with autism, to focus in on their skills place them in jobs working in the IT sector, financial sector, and pharmaceutical industry.
The sole purpose of The Specialists is to open the eyes of everyone in the world who do not believe people with autism have as much potential for typically developing people. Many think that someone with autism is not capable of sitting at a desk for hours on end, influencing the business or IT world. But Thorkil Sonne and other members of The Specialists know different. One of The Specialists’ clients in Danish pension fund ATP, whose section manager Vibeke Brask believes,
“There are very few mistakes and they are able to handle long lists that the rest of us just can’t fathom. And as far as motivation is concerned, many of our employees would run cold in doing what the Specialists can do for several hours at a time.” [i]
The Specialists have expanded to 9 countries, including Germany and the United States. The goal has expanding from creating jobs for 1,000 people to one million people with autism, and to influence society to have a positive aspect toward this population.
[i] “The Straits Times” Changing attitudes about autism, one job at a time. 22 Jun 2013. Web. <http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/impact-journalism-day/story/changing-attitudes-about-autism-one-job-time-20130622>