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Make room in the workplace for people with Autism - Jan. 17,2013 - CBC Radio The Current

posted Jan 19, 2013, 10:42 AM by Dragonfly Centre for Autism Inc
Jan. 17,2013 - CBC Radio One The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti                                                                  

Jeff is a 19 year old high school grad who spends a whole lot of time playing video games in his mom's basement. He is also autistic and that ease with the computer may be just the thing that will allow him to find meaningful work. Today we look at the employable side of Autism and the entrepreneurs changing the lives of autistic young people by recognizing their potential. 



Make room in the workplace for people with Autism - Specialisterne

According to Autism Society Canada, 200-thousand Canadians are living with an autism spectrum disorder. Some show quite severe symptoms, others hardly any at all. But the chances are you haven't met any of them at work. It's not because they can't handle the work -- often it's because they can't handle job interviews -- or the noise of the workplace.

But there's a growing movement to find jobs that can take advantage of the often remarkable capabilities of autistic people. And a Danish Company is leading the way. Specialisterne specifically hires people on the autism spectrum.

Thorkil Sonne founded the company and this month he's expanding his operations to the U.S. We reached him at his office in Copenhagen.

Make room in the workplace for people with Autism - 19 yr old Jeff Lawson

Specialisterne - which is Danish for The Specialists - a company that specifically hires people with autism is an idea that's taking root in Canada. A new program is about to launch in Calgary that aims to help autistic people find fulfilling careers, primarily in IT.

Maureen Jensen is the employment Coordinator with Autism Calgary. The Calgary program aims to get people, such as 19-year-old Jeff Lawson, out of his parents' basement and into the workforce. We heard from Jeff.

Make room in the workplace for people with Autism - U of Calgary Professor

A U.S. study last year found in the first two years after high school, young autistic people had a greater than 50-percent chance of being unemployed.

David Nicholas is currently researching employment issues for Canadians with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He's an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary.

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath. 

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