3 ways you can help Adults on the Autistic Spectrum in N Ireland during Autism Awareness Month (with or without Lego!)

Specialisterne NI is a not for profit social enterprise that works to help adults on the Autistic Spectrum to prepare for, and thrive in careers across job sectors in N Ireland.

We have waiting lists of adults and young people requesting Communication profiling, and employability support. You or your company can help people on the Autistic Spectrum in N Ireland receive the support they need. You can do so by:

Sponsoring an adult or young person on the Autistic Spectrum:

£40 provides one adult with an employability clinic, where the participant will receive help with developing a LinkedIn profile, coaching regarding communicating at interview, and support to overcome obstacles related to job seeking.

£250 enables one adult or young person to participate in Social Communication Drama Workshops, where participants observe real work scenarios through role play with a professional actor, and engage in Lego team building exercises to learn about social communication at work. This helps participants feel more confident regarding job seeking and being in workplaces.

‘I liked the role plays, they helped me see what work can be like’

£350 enables one adult or young person to participate in a Lego Workshop where 4-6 people on the Autistic Spectrum work together in small teams to build a Lego Robot. Participants learn about communicating as a team, managing a work-like task, self-management and organisation. Workshops are led by Autism and Social Communication Specialists who coach on strategies to work in teams and communicate effectively. Participants receive a Communication Profile and 2 individual coaching sessions to discuss the results.

‘It made me feel that I can work with like-minded individuals. Which is important when working in a working environment.’

As part of the Specialisterne international network, which started in 2004 in Denmark, and is now in 13 countries, Specialisterne NI’s aim is to support 1 million people on the Autistic Spectrum across the world to secure and thrive in rewarding careers. You and your company can help achieve that. In return we will:

  • Measure and report on the social impact of the work you have sponsored. Specialisterne NI is practitioner trained in Social Return on Investment by Social Value UK.
  • Where appropriate, include your companies branding on Workshops and social media
  • Provide other ways you/ your team can contribute, such as mentoring opportunities

In Autism Awareness month, don’t forget adults on the Autistic Spectrum. We have seen how a little help and support can help talented people on the Autistic Spectrum achieve the career they want, and overcome communication barriers to bring talent and skills to NI companies.

For details on how  you or your company can sponsor a Lego or Drama Workshop contact Sharon Didrichsen on 07530859878 or email sharond@specialisterne.com


Managing and Coaching Employees who have a Social Communication Difference.



Learn how to manage, work alongside or coach employees with social communication difference in the workplace such as Autism, Aspergers or who display related characteristics. Working with a professional actor, we role play true-to-life scenarios of communication differences at work and use videos to support the learning experience.

Venue: Skainos, 239 Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 1AF

Date: Friday 26 May

Level 1 Workshop: Managing or Working Alongside Employees with Social Communication Difference Time: 9:30am-12pm

The session will include:

– Developing an understanding of what behaviours of Social Communication Difference (such as Autism/Aspergers) may look like in the workplace
– Increasing understanding of the experience of Autism at in work
– Enhancing confidence in working with people with communication difference or who are on the Autistic Spectrum
– Observation of role-plays that represent real life situations and around table discussions about these.

Level 2 Workshop: Coaching Employees with Social Communication Difference

Time: 1pm-3:30pm

The session will include:

– Developing an understanding of workstyles of employees with Social Communication Difference
– Increasing understanding of the coaching situation and how social communication difference can be supported in this context
– Opportunity to take part in role plays with professional actor to try out coaching techniques

Recent feedback includes:

  • Role plays from the presenters were very effective.
  • The best training workshop I have ever attended
  • I enjoyed the pacing and felt all info given was extremely relevant and was not overloaded with info.
  • I enjoyed the Role plays/ Great Presenters
  • I enjoyed the real life experiences.
  • Brilliant training.
  • Good mix of interactive and slides.
  • Enjoyed the pace of delivery and the fact that the trainers were obviously knowledgeable and passionate about the subject.
  • The best part of the training programme.

Please note that the cost for individual workshops is £135 (discounts for multiple bookings). A light breakfast/lunch is included.

Numbers of attendees are limited to 15 per workshop.

This workshop can be delivered in house, and additional workshops are also available, such as  Interviewing people with a Social Communication Difference, or Becoming a Diversity Champion. For details contact Sharond@specialisterne.com

Specialisterne NI have been selected by Techies in Residence to develop future online training in working with employees who have a social communication difference.

Book through Eventbrite (£135 + Eventbrite booking fee £8.96) or contact Sharon Didrichsen, Manager, Specialisterne NI Tel 07565 936191, email sharond@specialisterne.com to request an invoice.

Managing Workshop

Coaching Workshop



Cr8 Stories


Cr8 Stories

Do you work in the Creative Sectors in NI and would you like to tell your story? Over the past 3 months we have been working with talented people on the Autistic Spectrum  who are seeking careers such as travel writing, acting, film production, film special effects and make up, gaming, web site design and development, and animation.   If you have a story to tell of how you secured your career in the NI creative sectors and the highlights and pitfalls along the way, and are interested in sharing your story at our closing event (the end of March), we would like to hear from you. Please contact me on Mobile 07565 936191 or email sharond@specialisterne.com




Asperger’s syndrome: Employers need awareness of challenges


Shelley Corrigan

Shelley Corrigan

Shelley Corrigan shares her experiences of working at Software House Tascomi where Shelley has been working for a number of years.

Read the BBC news feature here


or watch the BBC News feature on BBC iplayer

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08fvpn5/bbc-newsline-evening-news-27022017 (Feature starts at 15 minutes).

Great to see Shelley and Tascomi’s experience highlighted and shared.

#goodpractice #diversity #works

For details on how your company can recruit talented people who have a social communication difference, or to see how Specialisterne can help you achieve your career, contact Sharon Didrichsen at:


Mob. 07565 936191


Bring IT On

A5 Poster BringITOn

Are you interested in a career in IT? As part of the 2017 Bring IT On initiative, Specialisterne NI, in association with Belfast Metropolitan College, invite people on the Autistic Spectrum to find out more about career opportunities in N. Ireland’s IT Sector.This Bring IT On initiative includes Career and Lego Workshops which take place in Cookstown in March 2017. If you are on the Autistic Spectrum, or have social communication difference, or if you are a parent or family member and are interested in learning more about careers in IT, you can book a place on a Bring IT On Career Workshop.

Bring IT On Career Workshop: 11 March 2017 2pm -5pm

Venue: The Burnavon, Cookstown

This workshop will help you learn about roles in the IT Sector and how to best prepare for each role. We will share how people on the Autistic Spectrum are making a difference to the N. Ireland IT Sector by bringing valuable skills and an ability to think out-of-the-box.

A professional actor will role-play scenarios of communication difference in the workplace so that you can explore communication strategies for work.

Team Aspie, Cookstown are supporting this event and will be available to discuss their amazing work with attendees. (For details of Team Aspie visit: https://www.facebook.com/groups/635230736562068/)

To book your free place visit:


Bring IT On Lego Workshops: 18 or 25 March: 10am-3pm. Venue: Cookstown

Specialisterne NI Lego Workshops help participants learn about the systemiser and team working skills they may have. Simon Baron Cohen of the Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University links systemiser traits to the skills required for IT Sector roles. By building Lego Robots in small teams our Autism Specialists develop Skills Profiles for participants which can help you choose career options.


Please note that Lego Workshops are now fully booked and you are invited to join a waiting list. Should no spaces become available, you will be advised of the next available funded spaces on Lego Workshops.

To join the waiting list for Lego Workshops, visit:


For further details, contact sharond@specialisterne.com

dep economy
bel metLogo New

In memory of Patrick Sanders, 1976-2017


Patrick surrounded by his artwork

rip patrick


We are very sorry to share that Patrick Sanders who has worked with Specialisterne for some time has passed away.
Patrick was part of our team so much so we called him ‘our Patrick’. His creative insight and wisdom made what we provided so much more than what it initially was as he co-designed with our team solutions that helped overcome barriers for Autistic people and their employers. His artwork left an impact that helped inform people’s thoughts and actions in a way that words could not. He was kind, funny and compassionate and always a joy to be around. We had many adventures together and he will be sorely missed. The footprint Patrick has left is etched throughout our work and we are very thankful for it.

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 sharond@specialisterne.com


*Artwork by Karen Tighe https://www.instagram.com/karentigheireland/


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 https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/specialisternenorthernireland/ 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.”