A new initiative is being launched today which aims to create more than 50 jobs for people with autism spectrum disorder over the next five years.
The move, billed as the first of its kind in Ireland, is the brainchild of the Danish organisation Specialisterne. Similar initiatives have already been successful in other countries.
The company prepares people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for the workplace - especially for jobs within the IT sector.
Specialisterne’s goal is to create one million jobs for people with autism globally.
Spokesperson Peter Brabazon said many people with autism had high-value skills which should be utilised.
"The skills they have (in the IT sector) are particularly in software testing, maybe data entry and higher-level computer analysis-type work," he said.
"There are amazingly clever people out there, but unfortunately up to 90% of them can't get employment. We're trying to get a higher percentage into employment, in areas where they are actually required."
Extract from Specialisterne mission statement:
"At Specialisterne, people with autism work in an environment where they are presented with the best possible opportunities to reach their potential.
"They don’t have to learn to adapt to the usual working-environment norms, such as being a good team player, being empathetic, handling stress well and showing flexibility. These are not the usual characteristics for people with autism; a fact that usualyl results in their being excluded long-term from the labour market.
"Instead, Specialisterne welcomes the very differences and character traits that are so often seen as a stigma."