Working with people with autism

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David Bornstein, an award-winning author who specializes in writing about social innovation, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on June 30 featuring a Danish company that regularly hires dozens of people with autism spectrum disorders.

Specialisterne (“The Specialists”) is a technical assistance company designed specifically to accommodate people with autism spectrum disorders. Instead of focusing on these individual’s unique emotional issues, the company focuses on their unique business talents. People with autism spectrum disorder regularly have “a talent for intense focus and concentration, an ability to recognize patterns, spot minute deviances and recall details, and a perseverance for repetitive tasks.”

“Part of the problem is that people rarely think about disability unless they are directly affected by it,” Bornstein said. “And while many business people worry about the costs of accommodating employees with disabilities, few consider the potential contributions of people who are not “normal” or “neurotypical,” as they say in the autism community.”

Finding employment for people with disabilities was especially challenging in 2010, as fewer one in five people held jobs.