Specialisterne: Autistic employees changing the face of IT
Posted by mandyf on March 10, 2012
No one likes to be diagnosed with a condition or hearing that their child, spouse, or a loved one has been diagnosed with a condition like Autism. There is nothing fun about it. It is nothing to make of light of, and for many such a thing can be debilitating. From all bad things however comes the potential for something good – at least that is the positive outlook people try to keep in the face of horrible news. As awful as any disease or condition can be, there are some that people suffer from that have made the world a better place to live in. Autism is one of those diseases, and Specialiterne is the company showing the IT world and world in general just how true that is.
Autism has not made the world a better place in the awful Scrooge “Decrease the surplus population” vein of thought, but more so because with the disease comes conditions, habits, and ways of processing information that can change the world for the better in some way. The people that overcome and press on to achieve great things in the face of this disease are not only inspirational, but deserving of our gratitude. They are regarded as great employees to boot.
Autism is a disease in which people do not develop the same social skills most people that would be considered “developmentally normal” do. For them, something as basic as human touch can be terrifying. Communication skills can be difficult to develop if developed at all. The driving compulsion to focus on details can be obsessive, but with those afflictions comes something positive.
Autistic individuals tend to be able to see and process information in a far different and more efficient manner than non-autistic persons. Not all are wholly aware of what to do with that information, but with patience and education they can accomplish incredible tasks far more accurately and faster than most non-autistic individuals. For example, Specialisterne, located in Denmark, is an IT consulting firm that specifically recruits and trains Autistic individuals.
Specialisterne is leading the way in showing the world that while autistic people may be limited in some ways, they are exceptional in others. At Specialisterne the main focus of the services they offer are in the areas of quality control, software testing, and data conversion. Specialiterne founder Thorkil Sonne found that when working with people that have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), they are not only thankful for the opportunity to work, they do an exceptional job.
One school of thought is that they are so good in part because they tend to not care about social protocols many others get hung up on in the workplace. When they identify something they think is wrong or can be done better, they just speak up bluntly. They have no worries about turf or how an idea may be perceived. They don’t spend a lot of their time on office gossip or surfing the web as is a problem in many workplaces, they simply focus on the task at hand and go until it is time to stop or a solution has been found.
The combination of those qualities with the ability to not only visualize what things may look like from many different visual angles with the ability to mentally perform virtual type walkthroughs of that is astounding. It is a hard concept for anyone not living with ASD to fathom, but for those who do have ASD it is as natural as breathing for most. Then when you consider that many people with ASD have phenomenal photographic or near photographic memories, and you then have the makings of an elite innovative workforce.
In recent years, Specialisterne has been featured on ABC News as well as many other news programs around the world. The first Specialisterne outside of Denmark has recently set roots in Scotland where similar success is expected. In the future, it is believed that Specialisterne and the training techniques they employ to develop the skills of people with ASD into viable, valued employees, will spread throughout the world and add to it’s elite clientele which includes companies like oracle and Microsoft.