For Some With Autism, Jobs to Match Their Talents – NYTimes.com   Leave a comment

What a thrilling story of real import and impact. “Sonne calls it the “dandelion philosophy.” Depending on your point of view, a dandelion is either a valuable herb — a source of iron and vitamin A, with many medicinal qualities — or a weed that invades your garden. “A weed is a beautiful plant in an unwanted place,” he says. “An herb is the same plant where it is wanted. Who decides if something is a weed or an herb? Society does.” “

“Specialisterne was founded by Thorkil Sonne. Eleven years ago, Sonne was a successful executive at TDC when his youngest child, Lars, then 3, was diagnosed with autism. “I had the perfect career and the perfect family,” he recalled. “It was so shocking to realize that one of our family members had a lifelong disability. As parents we wanted to make the best possible future for all of our children, not just the two who were non-disabled. So we had to come up with a new plan for our family’s future.”

“Sonne and his wife thought about what would be best for their son. “What will make Lars a happy man when we are not there anymore?” they asked themselves. “We thought,” Sonne said, “If others could appreciate his skills and respect his special personality in a meaningful and productive job, then we could go to the grave with a good conscience.”

With Specialisterne, Sonne has created something that has gone beyond giving a helping hand to his son. To date, the company has hired 35 people with autism to work as consultants for other companies, and is now training 46 others. Perhaps more important, its model is gaining momentum. Sonne has been contacted by people from 60 countries who want to adapt the work locally. He has expanded to Iceland and Scotland and is planning to spread to a half dozen additional countries within the next few years, including Poland, Germany, Ireland and the United States. Specialisterne has also inspired a similar Chicago-based non-profit called Aspiritech.” ”

 

via For Some With Autism, Jobs to Match Their Talents – NYTimes.com.

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