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matzoball

Update on Specialisterne

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Hi everyone,

 

Have been really busy these past few months! First off, happy new year and all that jazz :)

 

I promised to keep you all updated on my progress here at Specialisterne - so here goes!

 

It's definitely a case of me having drank the Kool-Aid - I'm almost evangelical about the place now and sing it's praises to everyone!

 

The other 11 trainees are brilliant, all on the spectrum , and all very nice people. We can all say safely that we now have a great circle of friends. We are now getting into the nitty-gritty of software tester training - and by the end of March we will all hopefully be qualified testers, and working for the company proper.

 

The working environment is fantastic, unlike anything I have ever experienced. Although our disabilities are acknowledged, we are seen for who we are - not our diagnosis. Everything is a consultative process at this point mainly due to the fact that this is the first class outside of Denmark to do something like this - I assume we have been successful so far, as they are now opening Specialisterne Berlin, and Iceland! I've already registered my interest in working in the Berlin branch :)

 

We have one IT trainer, who has never worked with people on the spectrum - but she is doing an amazing job! I guess we are training her as well haha

 

Laura and Maria are our ASD managers, who facilitate our needs as best they can and have essentially helped to validate our experiences here. Although in essence this is a business - they make us feel like people, not units to be shifted in and out each day.

 

David Farrell-Shaw is a very hands-on Director and is very involved with the development of us trainees - there is no 'us and them' situation, no office politics, just a wonderful atmosphere of respect, dedication - and to put it in the most simple terms - hope.

 

I am going to post a few links to some of the media coverage of us (I'm kind of in a lot of it) if you are interested to watch, listen or read.

 

I really cannot recommend Specialisterne enough. You all know the problems I have had work wise - now I truly have hope for the future, I wouldn't have been able to say that this time last year...

 

http://specialisternescotland.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/julie-rad1.mp3 - my radio interview with Newsweek Scotland

 

http://www.heraldscotland.com/business/corporate-sme/industry-urged-to-use-the-skills-of-autism-sufferers-1.1076157 (we weren't happy with the title including 'autism sufferers - but that was down to a sub-editor, not the person who wrote the article)

 

We were featured in a BBC report as part of the UN People with Disabilities Day, but I can't find the link!

 

Anyways - nice to be back :)

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Hi Matzoball

 

This is so brilliant to hear. I'm really glad things are going well. I wasn't sure when I read about this project, but from your own experience it obviously is a very good idea!

 

Well done and good luck!

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Kathryn   

That's brilliant and stories like yours are inspiring. :thumbs::clap: It just shows what is possible - if only there were more companies like this.

 

Well done for all you've achieved especially after the tough time you had in your previous job.

 

K x

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Didn't the trainees find it a strain having to get by on just expenses? It's all very well saying money doesn't buy happiness, but even so...

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Livelife   

Didn't the trainees find it a strain having to get by on just expenses? It's all very well saying money doesn't buy happiness, but even so...

Money doesn't buy happiness it keeps poverty and destitution away.

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Aeolienne - all the trainees were on benefits, so were not just existing on expenses alone. Anyone working with Specialisterne now are paid the going rate for jobs in their field on a self employed basis.

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I actually met a representative at Specialisterne's stall at the Autism Show in London in June 2011; I remember confessing to her that I wasn't sure whether I could cope with the upheaval of moving from London to Glasgow, and all she had to say in response to that was that Glasgow was a nice place with an active autism scene.

 

As it happens, this wasn't the first time I'd spoken to this person. I'd spoken to her on the phone a few months earlier. I asked her various questions about the application and assessment procedures, working environment, career prospects etc.She told me that Specialisterne Scotland was open to applicants from the rest of the UK and Ireland, but at no stage either in this phone conversation or during our encounter at the Autism Show did she mention that the trainees were only paid expenses. I'm not eligible for means-tested benefits anyway.

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Aeolienne, you've been in regular contact with us since 2011, and you're most definitely at this point aware of how the trainee scheme operates, and why it operates the way it does. Since then, you've been sent several employment opportunities, which you've felt aren't suitable as they aren't related to your field of interest. That's absolutely fine, and completely your prerogative. However we've been really clear on what field of employment we recruit in - which is IT and Data. You've most definitely got those skills, but to keep returning to the same issue repeatedly, is not going to help. Especially since we're not running the training right now.

 

We're not running the assessment and training programme at the moment, as we are focusing on making the business sustainable long term. This means that when the business is sustainable - we will be able to run the training programme again. It has always been made clear that the training, which is offered for free including a software testing qualification course, can only offer expenses.

 

We're located in both London and Glasgow now, as you know, and we'll keep trying to find something suitable for you. If you want to have a chat via email or otherwise, get in touch and we'll be happy to talk.

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I think what Aeolinne is looking for is a paid work, not voluntary based. She says is not entitled to means tested benefits, but moving to Glasgow would be too much with money situation. But is looking for paid work is that what you are saying Aeolinne

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Livelife   

This is a subject that I think needs to be addressed in general about volunteering and paid work.

Why is it that finding a volunteer position appears possible for somebody on the Autistic Spectrum but when it refers to employment where you actually get paid for your labour is a completely different situation.

I agree with doing voluntary work when it is that done through choice to help others there is nothing wrong with that and many hundreds of thousands of people do this to help others.

Where the problem is will be when organisations whoever they are or what their purpose is only find things for autistic people to do as long as they are not paid a salary.

Why can't they find work suited the ability of the individual spend their time and effort in projecting the qualities and benefits that are on offer to employers.

However this according to statistics does not happen, 85% do not work and within the remaining 15% is part time workers as well.

I haven't seen the statistics for how many autistic people do voluntary work are there any? If there are then why are they not being paid to do this work because they have the ability to do what they do so why should we not enjoy the same privileges as people not on the spectrum and receive payment for our efforts.

With benefit cuts and lack of welfare in the community it's these organisations that should be trying to find paid work to get us off of benefits not find work to be done that keeps us firmly entrenched in the benefit system taking away any self worth and little respect we had to begin with.

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Livelife   

This in my view is discrimination and abuse of the disabled, we want to work as equals with other people. Not a sub species that can only work for nothing, in years past this was called slavery. What's the term for getting a disabled person working for nothing when they want paid employment, if they can do something he the ability why can't that ability be used in society the same as everybody else.

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