Sunday, September 20, 2009

Recruit Autistics

Just received, the October issue of Wired magazine (pp. 98-99) briefly tells of a company in Denmark called Specialisterne which hires out workers with autism and Asperger's syndrome to do detailed work in software debugging and the like. Similar companies have opened in several other European countries. The company founder, Thorkil Sonne, says: "This is not cheap labor, and it's not occupational therapy. . . . We simply do a better job." (Reported by Drake Bennett.) Using distinctive talents in this way is an idea that could apply in many areas. For example, bright dyslexics are often very good at visual thinking and creative problem solving. However, most professionals in the field never take seriously the special talents of dyslexics -- and continue to focus narrowly on fixing problems by teaching reading -- when they should be giving at least equal time and effort to the distinctive talents that are not studied nor well understood. They should take a lesson from Thorkil Sonne and his associates. It is about time.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Youtube video clips on dyslexia

You are invited to have a look at the video clips put up in recent days on Youtube by Chris Smart, the maker of the UK video called "Dyslexia, An Unwrapped Gift." If you click on the Youtube address (below), you can select the first and second parts on the same page (about 9 and 10 minutes, respectively). Although I have a role, I have no reservations about saying that I think this is one of the best documentaries ever made on dyslexia.

I am delighted that Chris Smart has now made parts widely available on Youtube. It especially appeals to teens. Chris and his team selected a great setting for words ("Chained Library") and images ("Mappa Mundi") at Hereford Cathedral and great stories from the young dyslexic teenagers. Bravo Chris and the "Unwrapped Gift" team!

Following are parts of Chris Smart's commentary on his own film:

The first film ever made by Silva Productions back in 1999, but still popular today.

The film asks the question, is dyslexia a disability or an ability and goes onto to highlight research that suggests dyslexics will be the intellectual elite in the digital and visual picture packed world of tomorrow.

"An Unwrapped Gift" features Tom West, author of In the Minds Eye which examines the role of visual-spatial strengths in the lives of historical people who were dyslexic, including Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and William Butler Yeats

The intimate and thought provoking video diaries of young people in the film have proved to be a very positive factor in families with teenagers coming to terms with their own dyslexia. Shown extensively throughout the UK and America, the film's narrative explains how we can learn from the distinctive strengths of dyslexics, rather than just focusing on their weaknesses and failures

People with dyslexia are given a voice in "An Unwrapped Gift." It is not a video about how to treat dyslexia, it is a video celebrating the dyslexic difference.
Jo Todd, Key 4 Learning

"An Unwrapped Gift" is a high quality film that makes a positive statement about a group of people who have historically been put through the mill by virtue of misunderstanding.
Stephanie Zinser, Freelance Journalist (who writes regularly on health for the Daily Mail)