A nonprofit which places adults on the autism spectrum in jobs has now expanded to the Midwest, opening a third office in Fargo, North Dakota.
The organization Specialisterne, which has been working for years to place autistic individuals into detail-oriented fields of employment, expanded this summer to serve more people in need. The global nonprofit was launched by the Dutch and helps train adults on the spectrum with in-demand skills that suit their mental framework.
Specialisterne’s executive director Mark Grein gave a presentation at the ICare4Autism International Conference this past summer on the topic of business collaboration which helps find suitable employment for those on the autistic spectrum. Their newest office in Fargo was granted funding through the state Legislature and the Anne Carlson Foundation.
One of the companies that works with Specialisterne to place candidates is Myriad, a mobile software development company. Myriad’s CEO Jake Joraanstad says that finding the right employees to conduct detailed, unbiased quality assurance testing has been one of their biggest challenges as they grow.
David Strand is happy to fill that role at the company. Strand is one of four consultants who was placed with Myriad after being trained through Specialisterne.
“I’m part of something. I contribute in a meaningful way to a larger whole, and that sense of purpose is the essence of life, as far as I’m concerned,” Strand said to InForum. Before the job with Myriad, he had never felt welcome or accepted in a work environment.
The mission of Specialisterne is to invest in candidates who have been overlooked because of their disorder, and working with them to build on their strengths. These consultants have been praised for their accurate, detailed analysis of software bugs and their fast turnaround time.
Alex Lee, another consultant from Specialisterne, works for the manufacturing company Appareo Sytems. His managers have noted his excellent attention to detail and manual skills, and they were unaware of his autism.
The executive director of Specialisterne Midwest, Tony Thomann, revealed that his first two candidates struggled extensively with attaining employment, despite having college degrees.
“It can really impact your ability to secure employment that’s of your level,” said Thomann.
He also mentioned that Specialisterne’s mission is not only beneficial for the employees, but for the community as a whole. He is grateful to have found companies in the Fargo area that are so willing to participate, and is hopeful that more businesses embrace the idea.
Specialisterne is currently recruiting another group of candidates to work with, with the first round of interviews scheduled for January 8-10.