So saw this on my Facebook feed, it demonstrates a move in America towards employing people with autism, ok early days but the main points are that we do each have individual abilities and given the right environment can give more than most.
I have read similar stories about people with Dyslexia, The government listening establishment GCHQ seek out those with dyslexia as they have a unique ability to see patterns in many things, often seeing specific patterns in data often missed by others.
It would be nice to see something similar in this country, there doesn’t seem to be much for adults at all, work or after care or councilling and support.
I get many feeds on face book, They know me well Lol!
so feeds like ,Dyslexia, depression and The National Autistic Society ( Britain) and The National Autistic Association (American).
The American one has many more stories and help giving guidance and knowledge for all to read, The NAS sadly seems to be endless feeds about donating or volunteering, Having been a member here for many months I was surprised to “ stumble” upon the fact the NAS has schools for autistic children and can help with accommodation for younger adults?
It is probably on the main pages but never any mention on this forum? I for one think there should be a regular update on here telling us what NAS is doing and promoting itself, maybe if we all shout together those upstairs might just hear us, we seem to be left here like squatters who sneak in and out using the basement to meet up.
SO THIS IS WHAT I READ ON FACEBOOK.
(I struggle to create links so copied and pasted it)
80% of autistics are unemployed or underemployed despite having the potential of being great employees.
As an autistic person myself, I know how hard it can be for those of us on the spectrum to get a job. I've been fortunate to be self-employed most of my life, although I've worked for larger companies such as AOL, ESPN, and PBS.
Companies are finally starting to recognize the benefits of hiring autistic workers and have begun to implement programs to leverage the unique assets that autistic employees provide.
5 Companies with Autism Initiatives.
By 2020, autistics will make up 1% of the company's workforce which sounds small but actually works out to about 700 autistic employees due to the massive size of SAP. As part of its commitment to diversity, SAP also has a great support system for its autistic employees. The company has found that their autism program is not just a way to give back. Autistic employees are much more efficient and cost effective due to their attention to detail.
Microsoft is actively recruiting autistic coders, engineers, data scientists, and analysts. Since the program started in 2015, over fifty employees have joined the company through the program.
Specialisterne is a Danish company founded in 2004 with the goal to create a million jobs for those on the spectrum. The company has worked with HP, CAI, Microsoft, and SAP as well as many other tech companies. Additionally, Specialsterne has been responsible for raising awareness of the importance of hiring autistic employees.
4) Robison Service
Robison Service's TCS Auto Program was founded to bring together autistic high school students to build a vintage Bentley to compete in La Carrera Panamericana, a 3000km race through Mexico. Robison Service is a family run business based in Springfield, MA and founded by autistic author John Elder Robison.
Aspiritech harnesses the power of Asperger's / Autism to do software testing. QA has been a field that has benefited from autistic people's attention to detail and Aspiritech is one of many companies benefiting from the laser sharp focus of those on the autism spectrum.
There are some other companies with autism initiatives, but this list gives you a taste of what is being done. Unfortunately, these initiatives are the exception when it comes to the way that autism is being dealt with in corporate America.
Hopefully more employers will follow suit when they realize how big of a benefit autistic workers provide. A company can do good while also increasing profitability.
I actually got into a conversation about this subject the other day. Most of those schemes are coming from Specialisterne. Thorkil Sonne seems somewhat of an opportunist to me. The center he set up in Scotland was a faliure and he left a lot of ASD people out to dry. He also obtained a lot of charity and public funding which appeared to be spent in questionable ways, some wasn't spent at all. Think of a quasi-employment agency that also gets paid by charities and public money.
I do feel sceptical about big business and governmental interest suddenly peaking on the subject of Autism employment. The companies and organisations seem to be shoehorning people on the spectrum into some of the more morally questionable projects they have. Microsoft has become a pretty morally questionable company in my opinion recently. The offer of a more comfortable working environment, a routine and purpose is the draw. One of the most nefarious companies in finance is pumping money into Autism at an inexplicable rate, funnily enough the same company was perfectly OK with funding Nazi's who would have "euthanised" several of us around 80 years ago.
Obviously there will be good companies with a genuine interest helping and getting what they need in return but I'm genuinely concerned by how this is developing. It seems to be a specific vein of business and government that are interested. I don't see fashion houses, kitchens, logistic companies or watchmakers being involved.
I'm cynical for a reason though. Autistic people can be exploited, this is a fact. They can use the "moral highground" of employing Autistic people, get tax incentives and then when the proverbial "can of worms" is opened, they can hide behind a moral smokescreen. More bad press for HFA but they got what they needed and an excuse of sorts. The world is becoming a technological nightmare in some senses and it all seems to be geared towards this area. Not tech as such but the more shady parts of it.
Robison however is a pretty interesting guy. A master stage technician, board game designer and Autism rights campaigner.
Sorry everyone if I'm being a bit of a killjoy but I've been mulling this over recently. We need to be careful. We need more companies to want us in general, not ones that want us as a weapon and a shield to hide behind. Just my opinion.
I didn't think about it like that. Good points though! I'd never heard of Specialisterne before but, explained like that, it does sound like a scammers dream.
Specialisterne seem like something I'd be very cautious of. They were forced to close their UK office after only 2 years but not after using at least £1.1 million in investors money and that's a conservative estimate. They only had 10 employees, 5 of which were Autistic.
The maximum amount that they made monthly was £10k. No business with such a poor turnover would be given such loans by a bank. Their scheme has worked in some countries but I'd say if the investments exceed the potential to make a profit they cut and run quick. Last I heard they owed £700k to Social Enterprise Scotland, they wrote off half of it but the parent company still had the other £350k outstanding. I find it dodgy that they would use a "parent company" for the grants anyway. Specialisterne's parent company is a non-profit organisation called the Specialist People Foundation who is ran by guess who?.......... Thorkil Sonne. You couldn't make this *** up. So he got awards and grants for a company that is a business that could turn a profit but when the business failed he handed the financial responsiblity to a non-profit organization that has the benefits of lots of exemptions.
Specialisterne is a business that uses Autistic people as "emotional currency" to capitalise on business grants and make a profit off them if viable, in my opinion. If the business doesn't turn over a profit they suddenly become a charity that uses its charity status as leverage, and also uses Autistic people as "emotional currency" to keep the legal and financial repercussions at bay, in my opinion.
The most sad part is Sonne's son is Autistic. What a ***.
I think that (the fact that he's latched onto his own son's condition as a scam opportunity) is the sickest part too! The rest of it, once it's pointed out to me, doesn't surprise me I guess as charities do seem to be the easy way to go for people so inclined to get their hands on vast pots of money. Especially as autism is making it's way into the public consciousness atm.
I don't tend to think of myself, generally, as being too trusting but then something like this blindsides me and I begin to wonder, hmmm.
I don't think Specialisterne will be back in the UK. Hopefully not! We can only hope somewhere along the line the business/charity see-saw way of operating is either abolished or the regulations changed. I'm pretty good at spotting stuff on paper and in general. I made a career of it for a few years!
I've been far too trusting in my personal life though at stages, I think that's why scammers make me so mad! I think that the feeling of being duped is real shitty. I hope that the people who Specialisterne were supposed to help were successful after taking the leap of faith to put themselves out there. It must have been disheartening after all of that talk.
I understand the general points about exploitation, misrepresentation and not meeting expectations. I'm not sure about Specialisterne though - I saw a presentation by them two years ago (in London, after the Scotland project closed), and they still seem to be working in Northern Ireland. They reminded me a bit of a 'club house' model, where there are placements where someone is supported, but if the person needs to drop out, someone else can step in. Do you have links to more information about what went wrong?
I wouldn't rule out every 'social enterprise' that tries to get jobs for autistic people, but there are probably better ways to do it than Specialisterne.
I wouldn't rule out every "social enterprise" but I feel that the level of moral ambiguity that "social enterprise" can encompass needs to have a higher level of legislation.
Here are the links for Specialisterne's faliure and exploitation of funding in the UK, Scotland to be specific.
If you read Specialisterne's Wikipedia page it states "In December 2008, Thorkil Sonne donated all shares of Specialisterne to the Specialist People Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Sonne." This is the loophole which was used that I spoke of. Bear in mind also that they opened the Northern Ireland office in 2014 and they registered it as a non-profit organization, in Scotland it was a business. Probably to avoid the legal ramifications.
Here's some anecdotal stuff from a few of the employees who were based at Specialisterne Scotland. It sounds like it was a right cluster****.
I'd say that they are willing to be a business when they are profiting but retreat into non-profit organisation when they don't turn a profit. They sure as hell got out of the UK (Scotland to be specific again) as soon as they realised they weren't going to make much money. If they did have any genuine concern over Autism employment they would have probably stuck around a bit longer and paid those grants back so that they could be used for other causes, on principle alone.
Where did you see the presentation? Please don't tell me it was at a charity expo! Specialisterne should be ostracised from that sort of thing, in my opinion. I used to post on another Autism site and once there was a guy advertising for will services. I checked out his company and they were offering to do LPA services and charging £800 a pop. It only costs £81 pounds to do an LPA directly! LPA should always be done by a solicitor (who wouldn't charge £800 and would be fully regulated) and this guy was not even a solicitor. He said his company was in conjunction with several SEN schools and Autism groups over 5 years. The guy had started his company with £100 capital 9 months earlier! Before that he was a teacher in a regular Comprehensive. Needless to say I called him out and reported him to the site. I reported several of these slimy *** over time. There was also a doctor in the US that had been struck off for putting several lives at risk in a deprived area and scamming medic-aid money. He contacted the site asking where he could buy cheap second hand equipment for an Autism day center. How doesn't that ring alarm bells! I checked him out and his medical and subsequent business record after his medical career was a ******* disgrace. The site never vetted anyone who added themselves to the service directory.
I think that Autism is fertile ground for a lot of revenue streams and obviously people with questionable "business models" will exploit the emotional aspects of hope and trust. The charities, sites, and communities should be more vigilant. There will be people we need to welcome into all of this but there are people we need to keep well away. These are scary times because of the rapid expansion of Autism awareness and more diagnosis being made than ever.
Thanks for reply. The presentation was at a small Asperger group, looking for recruits.
There's a contradiction between asking for goodwill and charitable status, and taking off any profits to a different organisation or highly-paid officials - I don't see evidence they did the latter. But it sounds like they had poor planning and a patronising attitude. I wonder how much of the attitude was down to grants and external factors - there's been a lot of money for tedious basic training below the trainees' level (eg ECDL) without responding to actual employment needs.
Auticon I've heard speak too. They do seem aimed at high flyers who can do 9-5, 5 days a week.
No problem, glad to talk Cassandro! I didn't say at any stage that they were moving money to another organization or to officials. There is a strong indication that they were dishonest with funding provided by charities and government grants. They wouldn't have put the financial responsibility on a parent company who were a non-profit organization if they wanted the issue to be fully transparent.
Who knows what happened to the money but it sure didn't get spent in the way it was intended. Going by the stories on the Wrong Planet and the Sunday Herald they had 5 Specialisterne employees running the place and 5 autistic trainees. Going by the Northern Ireland operation the people who are running the place wouldn't come cheap. They have 4 directors for *** sake! So going on the over £1m that they obtained from grants and public funding I'd say a big chunk went to the Specialisterne employees running the place who were basically not doing very much. God knows what happened to the rest. They only had the place open two years!
It's not legally fraud but it is exploitation and highly questionable from a moral standpoint in my opinion. I just imagine all the Specialisterne employees driving off the car park in nice big German cars with a nice fat bank account (remember salarys are a legal way to line pockets) after a nice easy day and all the trainees basically not progressing and having a life full of worry. That's the impression I got from the Wrong Planet stuff. It might have been poorly planned for a reason. Incompentency can be a very compelling alibi!
It is a mind-boggling scenario when you try and factor everything in especially considering how little they did seem to do for the Autistic trainees. It's a pretty sad state of affairs. I think that all of this stuff needs to be regulated more heavily. It puts the whole issue of funding at risk. Autism needs every penny it can get at the moment. I'm pretty peeved that my local Autism charities e-learning program has had its funds stopped (it was successful too) and a shambles like this has happened.
Auticon does seem like it wants the cream of the crop and with not much baggage, but it doesn't pretend to be something else. I guess they have a market demographic and they are fulfilling their customer base. I just think of the people with other skill sets that aren't being catered for. In a perfect world these issues wouldn't be a thing but the world isn't perfect.......!