Icelandic Company to Train Autistic Computer Programming - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Icelandic Company to Train Autistic Computer Programming

Published October 19, 2010

An Icelandic company plans to hire some of the country’s autistic and train them to test computer software and other programs.
The website New Europe reports that the company, Sérfræðingarnir (The Specialists), is based on the model of the Danish company Spécialisterne – a company that gained international attention for training autistic people for the job market, working with companies such as Microsoft, Cisco and Oracle. Sérfræðingarnir was founded by the Autism Association of Iceland, with the intent of initiating the same model here.
Hjörtur Grétarsson, the director of Sérfræðingarnir, told Vísir, “The goal with this is to look at the strengths of autism but not to regard it as a handicap.” He explains that the autistic have numerous strengths when it comes to computer programming. They can focus on a single task for extended periods of time, he says, and are skilled in making sure that every aspect of a program is in order.
Sérfræðingarnir will be working with Icelandic computer companies, among them Skýrr. The intent is to get people hired for long-term work. The first set of hires will be some 14 to 18 people, with an additional 10 to 15 to be added later. They will, however, be free agents, and will be able to move on to other jobs should they so desire.
There are about 2,000 people in Iceland falling within the autistic spectrum, but nearly half of them are undiagnosed. 500 autistic individuals in Iceland are over the age of 22, many of them unemployed without their strengths being explored in the workplace.

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