The 2018 Autism Advantage Luncheon was held as a part of the annual observance of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) at the United Nations. The theme “Return on Investment” was chosen to emphasize that it makes good business for employers to tap into the autism advantage.


180+ participants representing thought leaders among employers, the education system, governments and grass roots discussed how we can harvest return on investment and scale impact for employers, people and society.

We are here to inspire, share knowledge and launch a collaboration to make sure that individuals, families, employers and the local community will benefit from inviting everyone to contribute their unique strengths and skills – autistic, neurodivergent and neurotypical people alike. We are here to create hope, to turn hope into action and to turn action into impact.

Thorkil Sonne

Founder, Specialisterne Foundation

The event was organized by the United Nations Department of Global Communications, in collaboration with Specialisterne Foundation. It was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan and Poland, and organized with the support of Cognoa, Google, JPMChase, Microsoft, Standard Chartered Bank and Tatiana Copeland.
Welcome and introduction to the Autism Advantage Luncheon 2018 theme: Employment Return on Investment: Mr. Jeff Brez – UN Department of Global Communications
Women and Girls with Autism (WAAD 2018 theme): Mrs. Alison Smale – UN Department of Global Communications
Government Return on Investment (ROI): Mr. Steve Wooderson – Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation
Autism Advantage Community ROI: Mr. David Caudel – Vanderbilt Initiative for Autism Innovation and the Workforce
Autism Advantage ROI, leadership perspective: Mr. Prof. Mark Vandenbosch – Ivey Business School
Doubling Employment of People with Disabilities ROI: Senator Harkin (video)
Autism Advantage Exponential Growth ROI: Mr. Thorkil Sonne – Specialisterne Foundation
Key Note
Looking past Limits in the Board Room: Caroline Casey – #Valuable

You can watch the full event on UN Web TV

Coolabilities: Mr. David Nordfors/ Mr. Vint Cerf (video) – I4J, Sweden/USA