Weed or Herb? From Special Needs to Specialists
Social entrepreneur Thorkil Sonne is trying to change how the world thinks about autism.
Do you consider a dandelion a weed or an herb? Loads of fun for kids to blow at and send scattering in the wind, and loaded with rich nutritional value such as iron and vitamin A, but often seen as a weed that invades gardens because it is not wanted there.
In a similar way, how we perceive an individual depends very much on the lenses through which we choose to view him, social entrepreneur Thorkil Sonne told participants at the Singapore International Foundation’s fourth Ideas for a Better World Forum on 21 July.
Speaking on the competitive advantage of people he calls specialists, the Ashoka Fellow explained that people with autism are often defined by, and denied work because of, their lack of social skills.
But they possess special traits such as having great attention to detail and the ability to perform repetitive tasks with high accuracy, skills that make them specially suitable - specialists - for jobs such as software testing and data management.
Inspired by his son, who was diagnosed with autism, and informed by his years of experience in the information technology industry, Mr Sonne founded in 2004 Specialisterne, a for-profit company that competes on an even footing with other firms, to create jobs which harness the unique capabilities of these individuals for gainful employment.
He went on to establish the non-profit Specialist People Foundation in 2008 with the vision of enabling one million jobs for these specialists around the world and to help people see these specialists as worthy, valuable and contributing members of society.
Joining him for the panel discussion at the forum was Ms Denise Phua, president of the Autism Resource Centre Singapore and the supervisor of Pathlight School and Eden School Boards, who said there was more funding for and emphasis on formal training and education for special needs individuals in Singapore now, but added there needed to be a better structured job placement system to ensure their successful integration into the work environment.
Bringing perspectives from the business and employer’s side, were Ms Tracey Ho, a Workforce Diversity leader at IBM, and Mr Alvin Ng, a managing director for Global Enterprises at Cisco Systems.Back
Joining Hands for Safer Pregnancies, Healthier Babies
Three-year Singapore-Tamil Nadu partnership comes to a fruitful close after having trained 1,000 healthcare professionals and benefiting 100,000 pregnant mothers across the southern Indian state.
Going Together, Going Further
29 international participants reconvened for the Artists for a Better World Study Visit in Kuala Lumpur where they gained insights on how diverse stakeholders can further boost the impact of harnessing Arts for Good.
Singapore and Vietnam Work Together to Boost Haemodialysis Care in North Vietnam
The Singapore International Foundation (SIF) partners with Hanoi Medical University (HMU) and Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) for the first time to enhance standards in haemodialysis care for over 5,000 kidney patients in the region.
Minister Yaacob Ibrahim’s Visit to Water for Life Project in Siem Reap
Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim visited the Singapore International Foundation’s (SIF) Water for Life project in the Prasat Bakong district in Siem Reap on 30 November 2017. His visit, to see...
Friends for a Better World
Through the lens of National Geographic, find out how our Citizen Ambassadors help to build a Better World.