Specialisterne translates from Danish as “The Specialists”, and is the name of the original Danish company and concept developed by Thorkil Sonne. Specialisterne Denmark and the Specialisterne trademark is owned by the Specialisterne Foundation.
The different Specialisterne operations around the world are truly socially innovative companies, using the characteristics of people with autism as a competitive advantage, and as a means to help people with autism secure employment. The majority of the employees in Specialisterne have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum and work as consultants on tasks such as software testing, programming and data entry for both the corporate and public sector.
At Specialisterne, people with autism work in an environment where they are presented with the best possible opportunities to reach their potential. We adjust our working environment to suits the needs of our consultants. We see the characteristics of autism as an advantage rather than challenge and welcomes the differences in personalities.
Putting it simply; at Specialisterne, not fitting in is a good thing. The traits that usually exclude people with autism from the labour market are the very traits that make them valuable employees at Specialisterne, such as attention to detail, zero-fault tolerance and a persistence to get the job done. We do not see them as people with an autism diagnosis; rather, we see them as specialists, which is why we refer to them as “specialist people”. Imagine a world where someone who was once defined by their diagnosis, would instead be defined as a “specialist person”?
At the core of Specialisterne is an up to 6 months assessment programme where candidates with autism go through different exercises, tasks and work situations. This assessment programme helps our staff to look past the diagnosis to see the candidate’s real personality, skill set and potential.
Specialisterne Denmark also operate a three-year education programme for young people with autism and similar challenges such as ADD, ADHD, OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome. The purpose of the programme is to create a holistic approach to education, which besides teaching traditional subjects, also focus on social and cultural understanding, health and well-being and social behavior. The school works closely with Specialisterne Denmark’s business partners and supports students with internships and work experience.
The Specialisterne concept proves that people with autism and similar challenges can be valuable and worthy contributors to the labour market, once they are understood and get the support they need to excel.