A software company in Denmark has created a positive reputation in the industry by hiring people with autistic spectrum disorders because of their special skills. Seventy-five percent of the workers at Specialisterne have autism and related conditions. They specialize in testing computer software and spotting “bugs” that software developers might have missed. It turns out that their excellent computer skills, their tendency towards exactitude, and their aptitude for intense concentration on highly detailed systems, are all tailor-made for this job. Most software firms are good at innovation and problem-solving, but they often come up short when actually testing their products for bugs. This is where Specialisterne (the word means “the specialists”) comes in. Founded in 2004 by entrepreneur Thornkil Sonne, Specialisterne fills in a much needed gap in the computer industry. Sonne notes, “My staff are motivated all the time. Our fault rate was 0.5 percent, compared with five percent from other testers. That’s an improvement by a factor of 10, which is why we can charge market rates. This is not cheap labour and it’s not occupational thearpy. We simply do a better job.” For additional information about this firm, see a recent MSNBC story, an article in the Independent(United Kingdom),a case study from Harvard Business School, and the Specialiststerne web site.
For more about neurodiverse individuals and their strengths, see my book TThe Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain (published in hardcover as Neurodiversity)
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