At Special Minds we work with people with autism. More specifically, those characterised as “well-functioning autists”. These autists are typically diagnosed with Asperger, who - due to their often high IQ - are well-functioning intellectually but not socially.
Generally, Special Minds is concerned with getting this specific group closer to employment, either through education, internships, employment in our company or at other workplaces.
Special Minds IT is the IT Company of Special Minds. Here, we hire people with autism as IT consultants for specialised IT tasks.
The challenge is:
As we see it, the challenge is to identify and activate the work related resources the individual possess. This includes identifying the challenges and barriers for the individual autist. Only when these are identified and dealt with, will we be able to help activate the individual resources. Such a process must be established for each individual who then must learn strategies to cope with his or her internal barriers.
At Special Minds IT we try to ensure stability and continuity for the individual which is often difficult. We are good at dealing with job related challenges. However, we experience that challenges and instability often come from unresolved issues in the private life, for instance the home itself or leisure activities. This could be changes within the family, moving, Corona crisis and much more.
Unfortunately, we do have examples where our attempts to maintain an employee fails and we must dismiss them due to the fact that these issues from the private life are not properly dealt with.
Our experience is that a fair amount of good and useful initiatives is initiated by the public authorities to help this target group balance a private life and a work life. When this sometimes fails, it might be because:
- The initiatives are fragmented and non-coordinated. There might be home support, mentor support, support at the work place, support from a psychologist and support from family and friends. However, these are often not coordinated and we sometimes see that the different initiatives actually work against one another despite the best of intentions.
- Some initiatives are not “staffed” with the right competencies and knowledge within autism – this is often the case with ordinary educational institutions who do not possess enough knowledge about autism to deal with the target group in a proper manner.
- There is not enough focus on transitions between the different municipal administrations and life situations. This is where the problems often occur since we often fail to maintain the progress of the individual – for instance from the clarification process to the job training, to an education, to employment and so on.
- The initiatives are often time-limited e.g. mentor support, home support etc. This contrast with autism being a permanent development disorder. Therefore the initiatives should of course also be permanent.
- We experience that some types of support from the public authorities are withdrawn when we hire a person as IT consultant. This is based on the logic that when the person can hold a job, then home support and other support is not necessary. We find this to be incorrect, because to hold a job this target group is in need of extra support in the private sphere as well.
We wish to gain knowledge on one or more of the issues raised above.
Special Minds IT is collaborator on the megaproject Better Together under the challenge Integrating vulnerable unemployed on the labour market. Special Minds IT will be available for student collaboration by appointment with megaproject coordinator Stine Rasmussen.