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.

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