My son Lars was 2½ years old when my wife and I noticed that his development began to differ from that of his older brothers. We arranged with his nursery carers that he would get extra support from a qualified child psychologist, all the while hoping of course that we could learn how best to help him become more like his brothers.
Our Lives Changed
Eventually, we were informed that Lars had infantile autism – a life-long invisible handicap in the category of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Lars would face a life where he would be constantly misunderstood and isolated because it would be difficult for him to interpret what others expected of him. Most likely, Lars would never have a normal working life.
I became active in the Danish Autism Association. I also studied the Danish welfare model, and realized that although the model is strong and has many good aspects, there was a lot of room for improvement. I learned that families with a child with ASD have a high risk of disintegration. This is most often because this handicap is invisible, meaning that the family has to struggle get the outside world to understand and provide timely support. Social workers also work under difficult conditions where welfare schemes are available, but the knowledge of how best to help people with complicated invisible handicaps is thin on the ground. I experienced that both those who need the help and those who provide help are under great and increasing strain.
With the support of my family I re-mortgaged our home and established Specialisterne (The Specialists) in an attempt to tailor a working environment geared towards autistic people, enabling them to use their specialist skills to act as consultants to the business sector, at market terms.
My vision is to create new possibilities for autistic people and to influence society to adopt a more positive attitude towards autistic people.