July 17, 2012

Perforce Foundation: Helping to Generate Employment for those with Autism


Regular readers of this blog may recall Carrie Ewing’s post last fall about the Perforce Foundation. Our ‘Corporate Tithing Program’ remains one of the things we are most proud of at Perforce. I wanted to highlight a recent donation, as the project may be of interest and potential value to many of you in the software industry.

The latest CDC study estimates that 1 in 88 children in the United States (1 in 54 boys) have Autism Spectrum Disorder. As adults, even high-functioning persons with Autism have an unemployment rate higher than 85%, despite frequently having special mental gifts – photographic recall is common. The problem is that socially quite often it is a challenge for them to ‘fit in’.

autism chart
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The Danish social enterprise Specialisterne employs persons with Autism as software consultants, primarily in test and data conversion with great success. Founder Thorkil Sonne has created the Specialist People Foundation to globalize the concept, and facilitate the start-up of similar non-profit firms in Iceland, Switzerland and the U.K.

The Perforce Foundation is pleased to be a major contributor to SPF’s North American efforts, funding start-up planning work for the Canadian operation. The hard ground breaking work for the NA has been spearheaded by Russ Peardon and a very committed group of board members. Russ and I go back quite a few years, to Gupta, and it's wonderful to be working with him again on such a worthwhile venture.

If you are curious about the project, or the concept generally, please do get in touch with me.