Friday, August 3, 2012

Autism Speaks' hypocrisy in workplace problems II

As regular readers of autism's gadfly may remember, a few years ago I wrote a post regarding the fact that autism speaks would boast about how important it was to give autistic people job opportunities and showing videos of person's with autism in various jobs.  This was in spite of the fact that to the best of my knowledge they have never had any paid employees in their organization whatsoever.  Not even a minimum wage janitor or file clerk assisted by a job coach and accommodated for.  I realize they have this person, Kerry Magroo, (sp?) who blogs for them occasionally who is referred to as "a staffer".  It is unclear whether this individual is a paid employee of AS or not.   It seems that AS is at it again with their nonstop demagoguery.  They've even recycled giving PR to the jobs for autistics which they had nothing to do with the creation of which I wrote about in hypocrisy I.  They've now publicized some department of labor grants to help train disabled people for jobs that they had nothing to do with.  This is for all disabilities and not just autism.  So I have to wonder if autistic people don't have it worse than other disabilities due to the poor social skills which make them less employable.  Legally, these are not accommodable under ADA as I've written in recent previous posts.

In yet another PSA, AS bandies about statistics about how grave the problem is.  They cite that nine out of ten autistics is not employed regardless of IQ or functioning level.  I myself am not currently in the top 10%.  They also project that 500,000 autistic children will become adults in the next decade.  AS neglects to cite any source for these figures and where they come from I have no idea.

AS also states:
A comprehensive Employment Tool Kit is in development to help adults with autism find and keep a job in the current competitive labor market, as well as help employers recognize the abilities and strengths of individuals with autism. 

I'd be interested in exactly what this comprises of and who developed it and how they can possibly help autistic people find and keep jobs, particularly in a bad economy.  I'm also curious as to whether or not these alleged strengths and abilities of autistic people is based on the research of Laurent Mottron to whom autism speaks awarded a nearly half million dollar grant.  Dr. Mottron has written that autistic people are assigned menial tasks in jobs when they are capable of much better, but offers no evidence for this allegation.  He apparently bases this on the abilities of autistic people to find embedded figures and superior memory and musical pitch abilities or their superior scores on the Raven's matrices versus the Wechsler.

Another project AS is engaged in is an employment think tank.  These individuals seem to have about as much ability to think and common sense as the authors of that ironically named neurodiversity blog, The Thinking Person's guide to autism.  They cite Specialisterne, the company in Denmark which exclusively employs ASD software testers.  A google search has shown a variety of articles alleging that Specialisterne only stayed in business because of generous subsides from the Danish government, though I have not been able to find a definitive source.  Founder, Thorkil Sonne, in one interview did deny his company received government subsidies.  So it's unclear how well this model could work in a less socialist country such as the U.S.  Another company in Illinois, Aspiritech, has a similar approach to Specialisterne but is apparently subsidized by grants and as far as I know has yet to turn a profit. 

One of the most dubious considerations (at least to me) is that somehow neurotypical co-workers can be trained to work with autistic employees.  AS is dreaming if they think that's going to happen.  If they're so sure of this, then I am curious why they don't implement this strategy in their own organization.

Once again, I wish that Autism Speaks would  either start employing autistic people in their organization or stop spreading propaganda and demagoguery that they don't really believe in.   



Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Katja Worm. I'm an 35 year old woman and a former employee at Specialisterne in Denmark.
I just wanna say you're right about everything you wrote in your blog. I share your opinion. I really do.
You can't run a business by using this method. And you can't demand an amount in that size, and just believe that the government and the social services will pay it. It's not gonna Work in a long run. You have to make Money by yourself from selling a product or something like that. And they're not doing something like that at Specialisterne. They have some contact with other Companies, but the Company is staying in business by getting Money from the government. It's not okay. It's a scam.
During that same time, I was working there, it didn't seem like anyone got a real job.
All we were doing was sitting and playing with a cell phone and talk to a psychologist. It doesn't have anything to do with creating a career in the business World. The employees were not affective at all. They were only doing one assigntment which took them all day to finish.
The employees didn't get any professional training in social skills either. They were allowed to show their autistic behaviour in public by sitting and do rocking and spinning movements with their body, which is a classical sign of autism. If they're showing this strange behaviour at a Work place, it's no Wonder, if they can't keep a job.

Katja Worm said...

Dear Jonathan,

About the Specialist and this major autism scam.. I've got in touch with Morten Spiegelhauer,who
is a Danish TV host. His specialty is catching all kinds of scammers and stopping all kinds of frauds.
I wrote to him, the Danish and the American government and sent a request of their assistance in this matter. They're also cooperating with the authorities here in Denmark and abroad. All the personal information on Thorkil Sonne will soon be in the hands of FBI, Scotland Yard and Interpol. They will do a full scale investigation on him and his dirty business, and he will get arrested, charged and send to jail for a very long time. Then we will finally get rid of that lying, filthy scumbag. That also includes the rest of his leadership.