Recruit Autistics

By Drake, Bennett | Wired, October 2009 | Go to article overview

Recruit Autistics


Drake, Bennett, Wired


Recruit Autistics

For some jobs, a disability can be a competitive advantage.

Most occupations require people skills. But for some, a preternatural capacity for concentration and near-total recall matter more. Those jobs, entrepreneur Thorkil Sonne says, could use a little autism.

Sonne reached this conclusion six years ago, after his youngest son was diagnosed with the mysterious developmental disorder. At first I was in agony and despair, he recalls. Then came the thought of what happens when he grows up.

In Sonne's native Denmark, as elsewhere, autistics are typically considered unemployable. But Sonne worked in IT, a field more suited to people with autism and related conditions like Asperger's syndrome. As a general view, they have excellent memory and strong attention to detail. They are persistent and good at following structures and routines, he says. In other words, they're born software engineers.

In 2004, Sonne quit his job at a telecom firm and founded Specialisterne (Danish for Specialists ), an IT consultancy that hires mostly people with autism-spectrum disorders. Its nearly 60 consultants ferret out software errors for companies like Microsoft and Cisco Systems. …

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