Launching Cr8



Specialisterne NI are delighted to introduce an exciting new project ‘Cr8’ which has the aim of helping creative people on the Autistic Spectrum get ready for careers in Creative Sectors.

Applications are now open for Cr8. Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • Participate in a one day Lego Assessment Workshop where participants build Lego Mindstorms Robots in small teams, and learn about how they work as part of a team.
  • In 5 hours of coaching, identify key career areas and learn how people on the Autistic Spectrum can thrive in the workplace
  • Meet with industry experts in your chosen career areas for mentoring and get ‘next steps’ advice towards your chosen career
  • Meet with other creative people at Cr8 workshops.
  • Develop a Cr8 toolkit.

Sessions will be arranged to fit in with participants diaries. Cr8 is offered free of charge and is funded by the Department for Communities NI. Places are limited and will be given in order of booking.

Aspergers highlighted creativity and originality of thought as qualities of people on the Autistic Spectrum. At Specialisterne we frequently meet people on the spectrum who are highly creative across multiple areas of their life. We have been working with creative employers and learning how to secure jobs in the sector. Through Cr8 we have the aim of connecting the dots of talented creative people on the Autistic Spectrum and creative employers, providing information on how to prepare for and secure jobs in creative sectors such as:

  • Design
  • Web development
  • Gaming
  • Animation
  • Film production
  • Textiles

For further details, or to book a place please contact Sharon Didrichsen on 07565 936191, email


*Artwork by Karen Tighe


3 ways you can help us help adults on the Autistic Spectrum in NI

Giving Tuesday 2


On Giving Tuesday there are 3 ways you can help Specialisterne NI help people on the Autistic Spectrum get ready for employment:
Option 1: Become a Corporate Partner
 A not-for-private profit social enterprise, we are seeking 10 corporate partners who will help fundraise for weekly Career Clinics for long term unemployed people on the Autistic Spectrum. A 2013 NI survey showed 60% of respondents knew someone with ASD in their own family, circle of friends or work colleagues, that is why fundraising for Career Clinics should resonate with many employees.
Our team have lots of fundraising ideas and team-building initiatives that will have positive outcomes for your staff and for unemployed people on the Autistic Spectrum! Specialisterne NI are trained in utilising social impact measurement tools such as Social Return on Investment and so corporate partners are kept updated regarding the impact each £ raised makes for the local Autistic Community and the local economy, which helps your employees see the difference they are making.
Option 2: Become a client
With over 200 graduate job seekers and students seeking placements, selecting Specialisterne NI as your recruitment partner helps bring you talent you may otherwise miss and helps create a level playing field for people on the Autistic Spectrum. Our team of Recruitment Consultants and Autism Specialists have over 17 years combined experience in recruitment match CVs to your environment and support you through the Recruitment process, and during the initial employment period for new starts.
Specialisterne NI training workshops coach your team in communicating with all staff and overcoming biases to make better decisions. Our next workshops are Monday 5 December:
Option 3: Fundraise for free!
Join our Easyfundraising community by creating an account with and, using a handy ‘Donation Reminder’ tool that directs you to 3,000 leading sites such as Amazon, Microsoft, Sainsburys, earn 2-5% of everything you spend in donations to Specialisterne NI! There are no catches and co cost to you. Individuals and companies that use easyfundraising for purchasing have raised £14 million for local causes such as Specialisterne NI.
Should any of these be of interest, we would love to hear from you. Specialisterne Founder, Thorkil Sonne, said ‘It takes a community to move from hope into action, and from action into impact’.
Thank you for your interest and support!
Sharon Didrichsen
Specialisterne Northern Ireland
Mob 07565 936191 Office: 028 9073 9601
Follow us on Twitter:  SpecialistsNI  
Like us on Facebook: Specialisterne NI
An Autism at Work Consultancy

Aren’t we all on the Spectrum somewhere?


It’s the question I am asked the most, and it’s hard to answer. From one viewpoint, the answer is yes. After all there is no behaviour specific to the Autistic Spectrum, just different degrees of shared human behaviour. There are, however, distinctive patterns of behaviour, patterns, according to Autism expert Uta Frith, that can be so distinctive they are instantly recognisable to the Autism professional. How is it that autistic people all over the world, across different cultures, socio-economic status, and personality types, share patterns of behaviour, even down to common favourite TV programmes or special interests?

The Autistic community is one of shared thinking patterns that impact how a person learns, develops, and relates to the people and things around them, and that lead to recognisable patterns of behaviour. Rather than learning primarily through an intuitive social sense, for example, the Autistic person can learn through trial and error, as if in a new country where the social culture needs to be deliberately learned. I have lived and worked in 2 Spanish speaking countries. I noticed that to achieve social success in a different language and culture I had to become an astute observer, that it was easier to get things wrong and that I was more tired at the end of the day than when in more familiar territory. This experience is close to the effort it can take for people on the Autistic Spectrum to fit in at work. It can be exhausting, and can use up working memory so that some days, just focusing on work and not ‘social and work’, can be a much needed break.

Sitting outside a culture, learning its patterns and working to fit in can have its plus sides. It can be refreshing to notice what people do as just that- as social behaviour of a group of people. Having worked with over 200 people on the Autistic Spectrum I find this a breath of fresh air that has a surprising result- people who work around our consultants over time can be more themselves too at work- and more likely to question doing what has always been done ‘just because’.

The Autism Spectrum Quotient was developed by Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre to help adults see what they may have in common with Autistic thinking patterns. It is available on the link below:

For a brief introduction to Autism, I can recommend:
Autism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

An Autism at work consultancy, we work to help people on the Autistic Spectrum get ready for and succeed at work, and we train and coach employers to welcome their talent. In our training workshops where actors role play communication scenarios, participants often relate to what they see, such as moments of social awkwardness, or the experience of being misunderstood. Although that does not always mean a person is on the spectrum themselves, we hope that relating to what they see can make the door a little more open to people on the Autistic Spectrum, as it is when we notice shared experiences across labels that define us that true diversity can begin.


‘Small allowances to make’



Read Ryan’s story in Belfast Live of how small changes in the workplace have made a difference.

Join with Specialisterne in signing the National Autistic Society petition.

Ryan says:

“Now is the time for everyone to take action to make sure autistic adults get the jobs they deserve by signing the petition to close the autism employment gap.”

Managing and Coaching Workshop Series

Managing and Coaching Workshop Series


5 December 2016 9:30am-12:30pm (light breakfast included)

Working with Employees with Social Communication Difference 

A hybrid course for managers who interview as well as leading teams, and for employees who work alongside employees who have social communication difference. Learn how to interview applicants, manage and work alongside employees  with social communication difference in the workplace such as Autism, Aspergers or who display related characteristics. We coach on how to feel comfortable in one-to-one scenarios as you recruit, manage and work alongside employees with diverse communication styles.

5 December 2016 1pm- 4pm (lunch included)

Coaching Employees with Social Communication Difference

Learn how to manage coaching sessions with employees with social communication difference. In this workshop participants role play coaching scenarios with a professional actor. Role plays are based on real life scenarios.  Learn how to feel comfortable and communicate effectively with employees who have a social communication difference such as Autism, Aspergers or who display related characteristics. Receive feedback on your coaching role plays and learn how to uncover an employee’s root issues so that you can problem solve effectively. This is a Level 2 Workshop which is open to participants who have completed any of the other workshops in the workshop series.

Read more

Extracts from 2gether

comm barriers2 (2)

At Specialisterne NI’s recent consultation with adults on the Autistic Spectrum participants rated 5 social barriers according to which were considered the most important. The 5 social barriers under consideration were communication, organisational, financial, environmental, and attitudinal. The barrier rated as most important by the group was Attitudinal, followed by Communication.


2gether workshop





Thanks to everyone who took part in today’s 2gether workshop, to Keith McAllister of Queen’s University for facilitating participants’ review of the data collected so far, and to Patrick Sanders for capturing thoughts and ideas from the workshop (in the lovely artwork roll below). As usual, coming together is a space for problem solving and ideas sharing that ‪#‎feelsgood


Parents of Adults on the Autistic Spectrum: Training Workshop on Working with Social Communication Difference



Further to requests from a number of parents, Specialisterne NI are providing a training workshop aimed for parents of adults on the Autistic Spectrum. This Level 1 Workshop shares with parents what it can be like to attend an interview or work while on the Autistic Spectrum. This workshop may be useful for parents of young adults who are preparing to enter the workplace or who are already in a job role.

Level 1 Workshop

Working with Social Communication Difference- what may that be like?

Read more

Summer Training Offer: Learn how to interview, manage and coach employees with social communication difference.


Specialisterne NI are offering a 20% discount for in-house and group workshop places booked before 31 August 2016 (Ref: Summer20)

Level 1 and Level 2 1/2 day workshops can be delivered in interviewing, managing and coaching employees with social communication difference.

To enquire regarding in house or spaces on group workshops email

Level 1 Workshop

Managing  Employees or Interviewing Applicants with Social Communication Difference.

Working with professional actor and illustrator Patrick Sanders, the Specialisterne NI team will present moments of social communication difference in the workplace and/or at interview and explore what can cause and help reduce potential misunderstandings.

The combination of role-plays, illustration, video and examples from Specialisterne NI practice, helps make the workshop immersive and enjoyable.

The Level 1 workshop aims to:

– Develop an understanding of what behaviours of Social Communication Difference (or Autism/Aspergers) may look like in the workplace/ or at interview

– Increase understanding of the experience of social communication difference in the workplace/at interview

– Enhance confidence in managing or interviewing people with communication difference or who are on the Autistic Spectrum

– Provide opportunity to observe and discuss role-plays that represent real life situations

Level 2 Workshop

The Level 2 workshop builds on the content of level 1 workshops to explore the coaching situation. It aims to:

– Increase understanding of work styles of employees with social communication difference

– Explore the coaching situation: support to elicit information to help you make good decisions, to create or build a positive working relationship, and to reduce communication barriers

– Provide opportunity to practice: Participant coaching: participants have opportunity to interact with professional actor role playing composite characters based on actual work experiences.

– Scenarios are observed and coaching  tips given by Specialisterne NI team

Recent feedback from in-house workshops:

‘Its amazing how many traits we all show!’

‘The relation to real life examples and real people brought the topic to life’

‘The roleplays and diagrams were a useful resource to take away’

‘Excellent event that was very thought provoking’

‘I liked everything about it- the best part of our training’

‘The role playing was excellent and memorable’

‘Really enjoyed the role plays – very good at illustrating the issues!’

‘I liked all of it! Very worthwhile – it should be mandatory!’

‘Role plays, illustrations, videos making it real and relative. It is very important!’

‘It moved at a good pace, examples and mix of ways of demonstrating were good. Cartoon summary at the end was really effective in compounding what we had learnt’

Cost £135 per person per workshop, with discount for multiple spaces or in-house programmes (prior to summer discount if booked during the summer period).

1 day to Digital DNA


Specialisterne NI is delighted to have been shortlisted for an award for Developed by AllState NI, as part of a Dragon’s Den initiative, allows employers to post jobs directly, to attract talented people on the Autistic Spectrum for job roles.

Job seekers can register, build profiles, engage in a secure user forum, and save their preferred jobs.

Employers can view (anonymised) candidate profiles, and see just some of the skills talented people on the Autistic Spectrum can bring in addition to skills in pattern thinking and systemizing, that we so often see.

Best Tech Innovation in the Third Sector

sponsored by The Building Change Trust

The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector is increasingly adopting digital and tech solutions to achieve their goals. This award is a recognition of those efforts and is exclusively open to Voluntary and Community Groups, Social Enterprises and Charities.


Healthy Living Centre