Dear Specialisterne USA clients, autistic and similar neurodiverse people, corporations community agencies, Vocational Rehabilitation teams and everyone who supports them,
Firstly, please know our entire team at Specialisterne USA’s thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones during these uncertain times. It’s devastating to watch our global community impacted by COVID-19. However, I’m even more inspired to see so many people rise over and above what any of us ever dreamed or hoped. I want to take a moment to thank the everyday heroes who have so long gone without recognition.
Right now, people with disabilities, autistic and similar neurodiverse people hold jobs in every single sector, all risking their lives to ensure we can live ours.
Grocery store staff, pharmacists and their customer facing teams, Amazon fulfillment teams, (from when I click, to when it arrives at my doorstep), scientists, hauliers and drivers, internet installers, the men and women keeping our infrastructure running, custodial staff, our first responders, and the medical teams, especially nurses, who are all, ALL risking their lives so I can write to you safely from inside my home.
This crisis has shown me we are all one.
Autistic and Similar Neurodiverse People
These are scary times and you only have to look at #ActuallyAutistic for a few minutes to see our collective anxiety is in hyper-overload. The “unknowing” is unsettling at best. Know you are not alone in your feelings and we will get through this.
I believe once the dust settles, and the cure and vaccine are found, we will be left with a world that is better designed for autistic and similar neurodiverse people.
Corporations have been forced to change the way they work rapidly–creating a fully remote workforce. What would have taken years, happened almost overnight.
We now have the opportunity to provide autism@work and neurodiversity@work programs virtually. We have been ready to do this for two years and we are prepared to show how easy this is to achieve.
TD Bank is the first corporation to make this transition—happening NOW. They are to be highly commended!
Our hope is this will eventually allow you to participate in a Specialisterne USA program across all 50 states, without having to leave your homes for the program’s duration. We will be working with Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) across the USA to ensure their programs support future cross-state border initiatives. As we always say, if you haven’t done this already, register with your local VR (right now virtually) ?
Since 2018, we created and successfully piloted WRaP, an online high school educators training program with the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation at Vanderbilt University. You can read more about WRaP below. The important thing to note is we are prepared for this transition.
The entire Specialisterne USA program, planning, Information Workshop, and 4-week assessment is fully integrated into an online platform for delivery. We have plans in place to ship candidates any supplies necessary to participate, and to prepare them in advance for an entirely virtual format. Second, we have shortened our four-week assessment to three weeks virtually. While it’s critical to evaluate candidates’ professional skills, teamwork, and individual characteristics, eventually they’ll attend work physically at your office in some fashion. Our proposed fourth week entails a structured onboarding week designed and conducted in collaboration with Specialisterne USA facilitators (Stephanie, Jennifer and Susan) to support your autistic employees as they transition to the office, whenever that may be.
The Workforce Readiness and Preparation (WRaP) online educators training program enables high school educators to run 4-week summer bootcamps, so their students understand and expand upon their specialized skills, while getting a paid internship in their community. Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors work with their local WRaP educators to find paying jobs, meeting each person’s specialized skills. Over 40% of autistic people have average to above average IQ, with only 17.4% attending a 4-year college, and only 20% graduating. WRaP will enable autistic students who want to attend college, to be able to do so, with the skills they need to help navigate a neurotypical environment. Again, universities and colleges have had to go fully remote. For those who want it, college education looks more achievable by the day!
As always, the entire Specialisterne USA team are here to help guide you through universal design of business continuity—it is what we do every day.
Be safe, be well and until we see each other again in person, vHighFive.
Thorkil Sonne, CEO, Specialisterne USA