Danish company certifies people with autism

Danish company certifies people with autism

Education and exam form developed in cooperation with Danish IT Society and development company Delta.

International autism guru

Sonne established Specialisterne in 2005 when his son was diagnosed with ASD.

He realized that labor market is not geared to employ handicapped people, and he saw is as his mission to help people with this disability maintain a satisfactory and active life.

This year, he hired a manager, Lisbeth Zornig Andersen, who handles business development while he is becoming an international guru in his field.

Thorkil spends most of his time travelling around the world to create networks and inspire other autism organizations.

For instance, he has been to Ohio this year to deliver a lecture at an autism conference. Furthermore, he is going to participate in the software test competition Starwest in the U.S. next year. In 2004, he received the Autism Award for his work.

Mortgage loan

Sonne has promised his wife that he will not take out a mortgage loan in their house when he starts doing business abroad like he did when he started his company.

But once financing is in place, he expects to set up an office in Glasgow, Scotland, in 2008 where the objective is to employ 500 software testers with ASD.

"We also have serious contacts in Sweden, Norway and Germany that want to start similar companies. So things are moving in the right direction," says Sonne.

Specialisterne expects a small profit this year. Business is going great, and the customer base is stable, not least since the company recently joined forces with the Danish consultancy Testhuset, Sonne explains.

This is an important agreement. They are in charge of managing tasks, and we supply the executing efforts. It really extends our network.

Donations without request

The extraordinary IT company is met with understanding and kindness in the Danish IT industry and abroad.

"Specialisterne is an exception in Danish business life. Integrating these people in a workplace requires extensive resources, and Specialisterne does a great job," says Anders Linde, training consultant in the Danish IT Society.

The Danish IT Society, which supervises the software certifications, has offered a favorable price on the certifications. At the moment, two business consultants from Accenture are working on a blueprint describing all processes in order for the business concept to be easier to apply in other places.

"They do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Accenture has made a donation without our request," says Lisbeth Zornig Andersen.

Companies have seen the light

In Denmark, Specialisterne has customers like KMD, Microsoft, CSC and Oracle.

"They have seen the light. They do it because they realize that they get their money's worth. We solve real tasks for them. That is the way we prefer it because that way we can prove our worth," she says.

The fact that Specialisterne has attracted interest all over the world is emphasized by a tie-up between Sonne and a research student from a Barcelona university to apply for E.U. funds for a research project on ways to integrate particularly challenged people into the labor market.

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