We are recruiting! Autism Project Worker (15 hours weekly). Project: 2gether

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Specialisterne Northern Ireland is an Autism at Work consultancy, which opened in Belfast in April 2014. As part of the Specialisterne International Network, which spans 13 countries for 13 years, we aim to support autistic people to get ready for, secure, and sustain, rewarding careers. We are now looking to expand our team.
This is an excellent opportunity to join a unique not-for-private-profit organisation in Northern Ireland where you will have the opportunity to develop new tools and techniques which support the career development and well-being of autistic adults.

Job Title: Autism Project Worker (15 hours weekly). Project: 2gether

The 2gether project was designed in 2016 through surveys and focus groups with 100 autistic people.

For details of 2gether, visit: https://www.specialisterneni.com/introducing-2gether/

Working as part of the 2gether Project team, the 2gether Project Worker’s aim is to support participants, who are adults on the Autistic Spectrum, to experience reduced attitudinal and communication barriers, and to progress in relation to having a career, feeling socially connected, and feeling better represented.

Job Description
• One to one meetings with 2gether participants, to support participants to develop strategies in relation to:
o Having a career, feeling socially connected, and better represented
o Reducing attitudinal and communication barriers
• Coaching participants in relation to strategies of autistic people.
• Support of small groups. For example, helping participants to connect with each other regarding areas of common interests.
• Support of group workshops. For example, planning and co-delivery of monthly group workshops.
• Out of workshop project activities. Undertaking weekly activities, along with the 2gether project team, to support participants to achieve project aims, such as employer surveys and virtual reality projects.
• Support of the 2gether Participant Panel, who review and advise on 2gether project activities.
• Maintaining records in relation to all project activity, in line with Specialisterne NI quality standards and GDPR regulations.
• Ongoing learning of tools and techniques which may support 2gether participants to achieve project objectives
• Any other activity which fits the remit of the 2gether project.

Person Specification

• Study in a relevant subject area at undergraduate or post graduate level (this includes currently studying or completed) Examples of relevant study include Atypical Development, Psychology, Autism Spectrum related, Sensory Integration.
• Demonstrated interest in and knowledge of Autism.

• Demonstrated in-depth knowledge of Autism
• Experience in supporting children, young people, or adults on the Autistic Spectrum to achieve the changes they want
• Experience in supporting people in small groups
• Experience in documentation of work according to quality standards.
• Demonstrated willingness to learn and a commitment to developing new solutions for autistic people.
• A driving licence or ability to travel to various locations across Belfast where the project will be delivered.

Terms and Conditions
• 15 hours weekly, times to be agreed with the successful candidate. Hours typically between 9am-5:30pm, Monday -Friday and one evening per month (which is the 2gether monthly group workshop).
• Salary will be commensurate with experience.
• The 2gether project runs until 9 July 2020, A contract of employment will be fixed term up until 9 July 2020.
• Specialisterne NI is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. Employment to this post is therefore subject to an Access NI Enhanced Check.
• The 2gether project, inclusive of this post, is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
• Specialisterne NI is an equal opportunities employer.

Application Process
• Interested applicants should send a Curriculum Vitae to:
Sharon Didrichsen, Manager, Specialisterne NI
By email: sharond@specialisterne.com
Or by post to:
Sharon Didrichsen
Specialisterne NI
239 Newtownards Road
• Closing date for applications: 13 November 2017
• For additional information regarding the 2gether Project and Specialisterne NI, visit https://www.specialisterneni.com/introducing-2gether or contact Sharon Didrichsen at sharond@specialisterne.com Mobile 07565 936191
Additional Hours

• Additional hours may be available as part of the Specialisterne NI Bank of Autism Support Workers, delivering employability and in-work support to autistic people, with the potential to increase hours to full-time.
• Applicants from the shortlist for this post may also be considered for the Specialisterne NI Bank of Autism Support Workers.


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Second Thoughts, Learning to Think Differently About the People We Meet. A new initiative for pupils on the Autistic Spectrum (aged 14-18).

Elvin Second Thoughts

In partnership with the NI Executive and as part of the Central Good Relations programme, Specialisterne NI, an Autism at Work social enterprise, is hosting a number of FREE social communication and team working workshops for pupils on the Autistic Spectrum across Northern Ireland.

What will ‘Second Thoughts’ involve?

Second Thoughts will involve taking part in two workshops:

1. A Lego Mindstorms Workshop where participants build Lego Mindstorms Robots in small teams.

Specialisterne Autism Consultants observe participants working in small teams and prepare individual Social Communication Profiles. These are then shared with each participant, which helps identify individual strengths in relation to managing a task and team working. Young people’s feedback from Lego Workshops has included:
‘It’s opened up mind on things. I never thought I was good at communicating, or working in a team, I may have more qualities than I think’
‘I found it very engaging and it allowed me to understand more about myself and also understand more about others.’
‘It made me feel that I can work with like-minded individuals. Also it was fun, not just by working together but by socialising with them getting to know them.’
‘It gave me more insight into what skills I have and how to develop that further.’
‘I found being a part of a team useful and having to do a task in a group and working with others’

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You can find out more about Lego Workshops here:  https://www.specialisterneni.com/about-us/assessment/

2. A Social Communication and Team Working Workshop where a professional actor acts out communication scenarios experienced by people on the  Autistic Spectrum.

Participants observe true-to-life scenarios and discuss strategies to overcome attitudinal and communication barriers. This workshop will also look at what it is like to be on the Autistic Spectrum in N Ireland. Young people’s feedback from Social Communication Workshops has included:
‘I really liked how they gave different viewpoints of different people on the spectrum.’
‘I liked the way there were roleplayed parts  to show people what it might be like for someone with Autism in that situation.’

Who are Specialisterne NI?

Specialisterne NI, a not-for-profit social enterprise, is part of the international Specialisterne network that has worked in 13 countries, for 13 years to support young people and adults on the Autistic Spectrum to prepare for, secure, and thrive in rewarding careers. The Specialisterne NI team have studied Autism to Masters level. We have worked with over 300 young people and adults on the Autistic Spectrum in N Ireland, supporting individuals to better recognise their own strengths and abilities, and supporting employers, colleges, universities and organisations to better understand how to develop the skills of people on the Autistic Spectrum.

Why Second Thoughts?

In focus groups with young people and adults on the Autistic Spectrum, participants have identified attitudinal and social communication barriers as the two main obstacles to being of communities. ‘Second Thoughts’ workshops seek to support pupils to learn more about social communication, identifying individual strengths and challenges, learning communication strategies, and supporting participants to better understand attitudinal barriers and how to work around these.
Second Thoughts workshops are informed by Autism theory, and the daily lived experience of young people and adults on the Autistic Spectrum in N Ireland.

Who should attend?

Second Thoughts is a programme for pupils aged 14-18  who identify with being on the Autistic Spectrum (a diagnosis or statement is not required). We welcome all enquiries about attending the workshops.

Specialisterne NI invites schools in N. Ireland to take part in ‘Second Thoughts’.

Should your school be interested in participating in Second Thoughts, or to book places for pupils, please contact Sharon Didrichsen, Manager, Specialisterne NI
Email: sharond@specialisterneni.com
Mob: 07565 936191
The Specialisterne NI team will meet with participating schools and will be available to meet with pupils to answer any questions regarding Second Thoughts.
Workshops will be scheduled at times that suit participating schools.


We look forward to hearing from you!

Specialisterne NI is a not-for-profit social enterprise that works to support people on the  Autistic Spectrum to prepare for, secure, and thrive in rewarding careers.

The ‘Second Thoughts’ programme is financed by the NI Executive, as part of the Central Good Relations Programme.

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Second Thoughts, Learning To Think Differently About The People You Meet: a new initiative for pupils aged 14-18

Elvin Second Thoughts

Second Thoughts, Learning To Think Differently About The People You Meet: a new initiative for pupils aged 14-18.

Specialisterne NI, an Autism at Work consultancy that specialises in social communication difference, invites pupils with social communication difference such as Autism or Aspergers to take part in Second Thoughts, a new initiative for pupils aged 14-18.

An NI Executive Central Good Relations initiative, ‘Second Thoughts, Learning To Think Differently About The People You Meet‘  brings pupils from different schools together to take part in Lego and social communication workshops. Participants will discover individual skills and career strengths, and learn social communication strategies used by people on the Autistic Spectrum.

By building Lego Robots in small teams, you demonstrate skills in completing a systematic task, as well as skills in self and team management. We then share what we see with you, which can inform participants when considering future job roles. You can find out more about Lego Workshops here:


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Following the Lego Workshop participants will be invited to a second workshop where a professional actor will role play instances where communication has been challenging. Participants observe the role plays and discuss communication strategies, as well as overcoming attitudinal barriers, which may make relating easier. This workshop will also explore the experience of living in N Ireland and being on the Autistic Spectrum, what is that like. Workshops will take place between September 2017 and March 2018.

Places are limited. To find out how to take part or to invite Second Thoughts to your school, contact sharond@specialisterne.com, mobile 07565 936191

Second Thoughts is funded by the NI Executive as a Central Good Relations initiative.


Introducing 2gether

2gether_trs (2)Specialisterne NI is delighted to launch 2gether, a new project for adults on the Autistic Spectrum which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The result of 2 years consultation with adults on the Autistic Spectrum in N Ireland, 2gether will help people on the Autistic Spectrum develop strategies to progress in careers, connect with each other, overcome attitudinal barriers, and feel better represented in society.

What makes 2gether different is that it has been developed in consultation with people on the Autistic Spectrum, who have decided on what the 2gether project should aim to achieve, as well as details regarding what the project activities (e.g. small groups) should look like, or not look like. As a core concept, 2gether aims to facilitate people on the Autistic Spectrum to support each other, through deciding on project activities, and problem solving together.

Sharon Didrichsen, Manager, Specialisterne NI, comments ‘We are delighted that the Big Lottery Fund has supported 2gether, enabling us to bring to life the thoughts and ideas shared with us by many people on the Autistic Spectrum in N Ireland. As usual, it is the thoughts and words of people on the Autistic Spectrum that hold the key for solutions for people on the Autistic Spectrum. We are privileged to play a role in facilitating 2gether and are excited at what lies ahead.’

2gether activities will include weekly bookable 1-1 clinics where participants can meet individually with project staff. There will be fortnightly coffee meet-ups and interest groups, monthly group workshops where participants can vote on expert speakers to invite, and quarterly group projects such as exploring virtual reality and video modelling. The project will have a ‘hop on-hop off’ style which means participants can access the project when needed, and can choose the parts that suit best. 2gether will offer participants different ways of connecting with others, from emailing ideas and voting online, to interest groups and workshops.

People involved in design of the project have welcomed the news of the Big Lottery Funding. This is what some of the people, across N Ireland, who have contributed to the design of 2gether, have said:

Two main things about life as an autistic person.

1. Autism is the space, or the dysfunction between neurotypical and autistic people, and
2. in terms of disability, disablement is caused by inequality of opportunity not the person’s impairment.
The current situation is often that opportunities for socialisation for autistic people are conceived, designed and organised for autistic people by neurodiverse people who don’t understand how to make the accommodations we need in order to achieve equality of opportunity – like organising an event for wheelchair users which involves a flight of stairs: our “stairs” might be fluorescent lighting, poor acoustics or even just the way a room is organised. The exciting thing about this venture is the partners have a record of understanding autistic people and what they need, and therefore they have based the venture on consulting autistic people to ensure delivery of well considered projects, and are involving autistic people in the delivery of those social projects. Exciting times!’ Elvin

“As someone with Aspergers and recently diagnosed, this programme gives me something that I’ve not had in a long time – hope. What I hope for is a sense of community, of support, understanding and empathy for those on the spectrum – for that’s what we are; a spectrum of different quirks, irks and personalities. I believe this could be the beginning of something truly helpful to those who need it.” Patrick

‘I’m thankful knowing there’s always a floor to fall back on, rather than a void without any next step or obvious escape.’ Michael

‘Anything that can increase awareness, promote understanding and lead to cooperation is a great thing.’ Stephen

We are welcoming applications for 2gether from adults on the Autistic Spectrum of all ages. For more information or to register for 2gether, contact Sharon Didrichsen on 07565 936191 or email: sharond@specialisterne.com

Note: the 2gether logo has been developed by artist Karen Tighe http://www.karentighe.com



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

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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

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In memory of Patrick Sanders, 1976-2017


Patrick surrounded by his artwork

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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.